Sufficient funds have been pledged to enable the start of construction of a new shelter over the damaged reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, according to the country's minister of foreign affairs.
|An artist's impression of how the new shelter will look
"Political decisions were made allowing us to say with certainty that the issue of raising funds for building the shelter is resolved," said Ukrainian minister foreign affairs, Kostyantyn Grushchenko. "It is very important for us that already now, this year, we can start building the shelter, which will protect Kiev, Ukraine, the world from possible risks associated with the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster."
He was speaking yesterday after officially notifying President Viktor Yanukovych of the outcome of a meeting of the international donors to the Chernobyl clean-up fund at the headquarters of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London. Aside from the good news on funding, Grushchenko noted without elaborating that there are still a number of "issues requiring technical completion."
According to a report from the German Press Agency (DPA), a spokesman from the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the country had received international pledges of $941 million to build the steel-and-concrete structure, and construction is set to begin in October.
The pledges will be used primarily to complete the New Safe Confinement (NSC), a vast structure to be constructed over the wrecked unit 4 of the Chernobyl plant. The NSC building will allow the dismantling and cleanup of the damaged reactor in a controlled environment.
The NSC is an arch structure that will be erected adjacent to the damaged reactor building and its 'sarcophagus' and then slid into position to environmentally isolate the unit while future cleanup operations continue. The structure is scheduled to be moved over the sarcophagus and confine the remains of the plant from the outside world for about 100 years. It is expected to be completed in 2015.
The pledges will also help to complete the construction of a storage facility on the site for the used fuel from the three other Chernobyl units, which continued operating after the 1986 accident. The facility will provide dry storage for more than 20,000 used fuel assemblies on completion in 2014-5.
The environmental restoration work at Chernobyl is funded by 29 donor countries to the Chernobyl Shelter Fund, set up in 1997, which is administered by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News