Leading economies have pledged to provide an extra €62 million ($98 million) to the project to clean up Chernobyl.
The announcement came at an event hosted by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) at its London headquarters. The bank, owned by 61 countries and two international institutions, manages international donations for projects at Chernobyl.
The €62 million will come from the Group of Eight industrialized nations (the G8: Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Germany, Russia, the UK and the USA) and is earmarked for the forthcoming used nuclear fuel storage facility. Ukraine is also upping its contributions by €8 million ($13 million), according to Volodymyr Shandra, the country's minister for emergency situations.
Removing used nuclear fuel from the three undamaged reactors at Chernobyl will be a major milestone in decommissioning the plant as a whole, but this can only be completed when a separate facility exists to store some 21,000 used nuclear fuel assemblies. Certain structures are shared by all four reactor blocks, and this means decommissioning cannot progress significantly until all used nuclear fuel is removed.
The design of the $275 million facility, known as SNF SF-2, is underway at the moment, after the award of a contract to Holtec International in 2007. This follows an earlier false start when an equivalent facility was built by Framatome (now Areva) but could not be licensed by Ukrainian authorities.
A recent picture shows the scaffolding used during work to stabilise the existing Chernobyl shelter. This project is now complete (Image: RIA Novosti)
The €70 million pledged today for the store comes on top of the €77 million the EBRD allocated from its 2007 profits specifically for the used fuel store. In all, nations around the world have donated €300 million ($477 million) to the Nuclear Safety Fund which is financing the store, while €770 million ($1.2 billion) has accumulated in the Chernobyl Shelter Fund. More money is still required, the EBRD noted. A crucial project in advance of the new shelter was the stablisation of the existing Shelter Object, widely known as the 'sarcophagus'.
Nations donating to the Nuclear Safety Fund include: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, the USA as well as the European Community. Those outside the G8 were called on to pledge extra funds in response to today's move by Yasuyoshi Komizo, the G8's chairman for nuclear safety and security.