Bulgaria’s first commercial nuclear power reactor began operating in 1974 and at the present has two nuclear reactors generating about 35% of its electricity. Government decided to conduct a national referendum regarding the development of nuclear power industry. The referendum will be held on January 27 of 2013. This is expected to decide the future of the nuclear power plant in Belene. This action was supported by the signatures of the 770,000 citizens, an initiative of the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, which with this way reacted to the decision of the Bulgarian government to cancel its participation in the project to build a nuclear power plant at Belene. Belene is a project for which Russia’s Atomstroyexport was contracted to build two 1000MW reactors, and was abandoned by the current Cabinet in March, when a report by consultants HSBC put the full cost of financing and construction at more than 10 billion euro.
National Centre for the Study of Public Opinion carried out a survey among 1000 people in the first week of November, which showed that 62.5 per cent support for nuclear energy. A previous survey by the same pollster in April found only 57 per cent in favour of building the Belene nuclear power plant. The percentage may be high but also the percentage of the respondents that do not consider themselves well-informed on the issue is also high. More specifically, only 7% of the respondents said that they consider themselves as well informed on nuclear energy and actively sought information and news on nuclear issues. About 38% said that they were averagely informed and 36% said that they were poorly informed. The remaining 19% said that they had no knowledge of nuclear energy issues.
The lack of sufficient information prevails on the citizens of Bulgary regarding the vital issue of nuclear power expansion and its possible consequences. The question accruing is that if the result of the referendum should be considered as “valid” since as it seems the majority of the respondents do not know what they are voting for.