EBRD donates $212 million to Chernobyl clean up

22 May 2008

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has agreed to donate 10% of its profits for 2007 to support international efforts to clean up the site of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

The Chernobyl-4 reactor (Image: EBRD)
Following the annual meeting of the bank in Kiev, the EBRD's president, Jean Lemierre, announced that some €135 million ($212 million) of the bank's 2007 profit of €1.1 billion ($1.7 billion) had been allocated to the clean up of Chernobyl. He said: "There was a debate about the dividend, and the decision taken by the shareholders was to use part of the profit of the bank not as a dividend but as the contribution to a key question of nuclear safety for the world, for Europe and certainly for Ukraine."

The decision to donate the funds is in line with two key contracts signed in September 2007 to progress clean-up of Chernobyl, the site of the world's worst civilian nuclear power accident in 1986, using funds that are managed by the EBRD.

One contract is for the construction of the New Safe Confinement, a structure that will be built over the remains of Chernobyl unit 4. This contract was awarded to the French-led Novarka consortium, which includes Bouygyes and Vinci, as well as German and Ukrainian firms. Some €330 million ($451 million) has already been authorised as an initial allocation for this project, as compared to the overall project cost of €470 million ($642 million).The second contract is for the completion of the Interim Storage Facility, which will handle used fuel from Chernobyl units 1, 2 and 3. The EBRD has allocated €34million ($47 million) to this project.

The EBRD reported that preparatory work for the New Safe Confinement is progressing and a contract for the site clearance and excavation works have recently been awarded. It said these preparations are a prerequisite for the eventual construction of the foundations for the confinement.

Contractors are currently working on the design and the technical details of both the New Safe Confinement and the dry storage facility. The EBRD said that final designs for these are scheduled to be submitted to the Ukrainian regulators in spring 2009.

The New Safe Confinement is funded through the Chernobyl Shelter Fund, while the used fuel storage facility is financed by the Nuclear Safety Account. Both these funds - which have international contributors - are administered and managed by the EBRD, which currently manages a total of six nuclear safety and decommissioning funds.

The EBRD was established in 1991 in order to help central and eastern European countries build market economies and democracies following the collapse of the Soviet Union. It is owned by 61 countries and two intergovernmental institutions. Despite its public sector shareholders, it invests mainly in private enterprises, usually together with commercial partners. The EBRD provides project financing for banks, industries and businesses, both new ventures and investments in existing companies. It also works with publicly owned companies to support privatization, restructuring state-owned firms and improvement of municipal services.