Chernobyl donor conference raises extra $200 million for New Safe Confinement project

A general view shows the New Safe Confinement (NSC) structure at the site of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant April 21, 2015. (Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko)

A general view shows the New Safe Confinement (NSC) structure at the site of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant April 21, 2015. (Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko)

As forest fires near the Chernobyl nuclear plant threaten a major re-release of radiation, international donors have secured €180mn for the construction of a new sarcophagus, thus narrowing the funding gap for the project set to be completed in 2017.

At an international
conference that took place in London on Wednesday, the G7 and
European Commission have confirmed their €165 million
contribution to the Chernobyl Shelter Fund, while other countries
added €15 million, accompanied by promises of future
contributions, according to the press release of the European
Bank for reconstruction and development (EBRD).

READ MORE: Smoke from Chernobyl fire could spread
radiation far and wide – experts

“The New Safe Confinement will ensure that the destroyed unit
will remain under control so that there will be no further
contamination of the environment or harm to the population of
Ukraine, Belarus and other countries that could be
German Environment Minister Jochen Flasbarth said
at the conference. “It will be a visible sign of the continued
commitment by the G7 members and the EU Commission to nuclear
safety and security.”

The funds received, while reducing the gap to €85 million, will
contribute to the continuation of the works in Chernobyl, located
in the north of Ukraine. The protective shield over the collapsed
nuclear power plant would be completed by November 2017, and its
overall cost is estimated at €2.15 billion.

“We are very pleased with the outcome of this conference and
grateful to all donors for their contributions at a time when
national budgets are tight. The additional funds will allow us to
keep the project on track and gives us confidence that the New
Safe Confinement can be delivered on time and on budget,”

added EBRD President Suma Chakrabarti.

The Chernobyl Shelter Fund was organized in 1997 to help Ukraine
cope with the consequences of the April 26, 1986 accident. The
explosion at Chernobyl’s Reactor 4 is still considered to be the
world’s worst ever nuclear accident, affecting not only northern
and western Europe, but also the east of the US.

MORE: EU commits €70mn to make Chernobyl exclusion zone ‘safe

The make-shift “sarcophagus” was created six months after the
accident, destined to become a radiation shield. But its
durability is believed last a maximum of 30 years, so it is set
to be covered by a new one.

New Safe Confinement is going to be the “largest moveable
land-based structure ever built”
with a weight exceeding
30,000 tons, according to the press release. Its construction
started in 2010, while its lifespan will be over 100 years.
Scientists hope that the new shelter will ease radioactive waste
management, and aid in the future dismantling of the old shelter.

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