EC provides extra funding for Chernobyl shelter

The European Commission has announced it is to pledge a further € 100 million to repair the crumbling sarcophagus that covers what remains of reactor 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

The pledge of extra money for the Chernobyl Shelter fund was made on 5 July in Berlin at the second pledging conference, co-chaired by Germany’s foreign minister Fischer and Ukrainian prime minister Youchchenko. The Shelter Fund is managed by the EBRD.

EC external relations commissioner Chris Patten said: ‘This very substantial EU effort is fully in line with repeated expressions of the EU in support of Chernobyl. The recent decision of President Kuchma and the Ukrainian government to stick to the commitment made under the 1995 memorandum of understanding with the G7 and to definitely shut down the last operating reactor at Chernobyl on 15 December 2000 paved the way for continued substantial support by the international community and the EU.’

Mr Patten said that nuclear safety, including the future of Chernobyl, and reform of the energy sector are central themes of EU-Ukraine relations. This new pledge of € 100 million supplements the initial contribution of $100 million provided between 1998 and 1999 and other assistance given to the Ukrainian nuclear and energy sector, including support for its nuclear regulatory authorities and power sector and assistance to alleviate the consequences of closing Chernobyl.

The EU has played a major role in implementing the 1995 Memorandum of Understanding between the G7 and Ukraine on the closure of Chernobyl, which has resulted in EU support of over € 350 million for Chernobyl and related projects.

These have included a first allocation to the Shelter Fund, and funding for projects to study, assess and mitigate the consequences of the accident. The EC has also provided assistance for the decommissioning of Chernobyl’s reactors, support in preparing replacement generating capacity, help in addressing the social and regional consequences of the closure of Chernobyl and support for power sector reform and non-nuclear energy projects in Ukraine.

There is still a great deal of work that needs to be undertaken on the Shelter project. Experts say that the potential dangers associated with the damaged reactor will persist until the highly radioactive material contained under the existing ageing sarcophagus is permanently isolated from the environment. ‘The size of the new Community contribution reflects the importance the Commission attaches to making a success of this challenge,’ says an EC statement.

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