Equipment for the project to build a Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in the Bulgarian town of Belene, for which the country’s National Electric Company (NEC) paid with a State loan after the lost arbitration against Atomstroyexport, sits abandoned on the bank of the Danube River without any safekeeping. Everyone can access it, therefore, there is no problem for malicious individuals to commit sabotage and/or destroy the expensive equipment. This was established by a Bivol team that did an on-the-spot check and returned from the site with detailed photo material.

On the photos, one can see some of the equipment valued at 600 million that arrived at the end of March. According to information from the caretaker Minister of Energy, Nikolay Pavlov, it includes a reactor casing, two pressure compensators, eight hydraulic accumulators for the system for emergency cooling of the reactor’s active zone and 16 hydraulic accumulators for the system for passive cooling. The rest of the equipment is expected to arrive by the end of August. It will probably end up being similarly left unattended if urgent measures for enhanced security are not taken.

At the same time, the Prosecutor’s Office launched a PR action by entering into NEC’s offices to dig in consultant contracts for insignificant amounts. The spokeswoman of the Prosecutor General, Rumyana Arnaudova, explicitly emphasized that the subject of the probe was not the contract between NEC and the law firm White & Case, which purposely lost the case against Atomstroyexport.

An investigation by Bivol proved that in addition to NEC and at the same time, the above firm had as a client the Russian Federation in the case against Yukos, which is of huge material interest. Furthermore, the arbitral tribunal administrative secretary in the case turned out to be a Russian citizen. Undoubtedly, there was colossal conflict of interest known to White & Case and NEK but they kept silent.

The findings of the former boss of the Belene site, Ilcho Kostov, remained without comment from the competent authorities as well. Kostov also revealed that the Atomstroyexport-built reactor block was practically unfit with huge cracks due to poor construction. This argument would have been enough to turn the case into the advantage of Bulgaria but was not used by any government, despite Kostov’s attempts to inform and alert the institutions, including by initiating a meeting with then- and now about to become third-term Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov.

What happened is just the opposite: the government “Borisov” decided not to appeal the arbitration decision, despite the opinion of competent lawyers and despite the conflict of interest of White & Case. After the deadline for the appeal expired, Borisov hurried to pay the Russians and made it speedily with a new loan of BGN 1.2 billion. The Prosecutor’s Office that was explicitly called upon to protect the public interest and investigate Ilcho Kostov’s allegations sank into silence.

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