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EU to fork out $27 million on Russia nuclear safety - NPP operator

MOSCOW, August 9 (RIA Novosti) - The European Commission plans to allocate 20 million euros (over $27 million) for nuclear safety projects with Russia, the country's nuclear power plant operator said Thursday.

Rosenergoatom, which runs all 10 Russian NPPs with a total capacity of over 23 GW, said the funds offered by the European Union's executive branch aimed at optimizing their preventive maintenance.

The funds will be allocated under The Instrument of Nuclear Safety Cooperation (INSC) program, intended for seven years. A source in the company said Rosenergoatom is supposed to prepare bidding documents no later than December.

The INSC has a budget of 450 million euros ($620 million), about one-third of which will be earmarked for joint nuclear safety projects with Russia.

The program is the continuation of nuclear security programs within the framework of TACIS - Technical Assistance to the Commonwealth of Independent States - that had 15 years of working experience with nuclear scientists in most of the former Soviet republics in equipment supplies and training.

TACIS, which helped Russia integrate into the world nuclear community, ended in 2006. Since 1991, the European Commission allocated 7 billion euros ($9 billion) to TACIS programs in different countries, with Russia receiving some 40% of the funds.

Rosenergoatom said in March that the European Commission in 2007 would significantly cut financing of projects supplying equipment for Russian nuclear power plants, and instead would provide funding for training NPP security personnel, explaining that the reduction in financing was because cooperation with the EC was entering a new level, based not on an assistance program but on interaction.

The European Commission is offering new technology for nuclear cooperation in 2007, as well as support for so-called soft projects more oriented to the human factor, meaning more attention will be paid to personnel, management style and security.

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