EBRD signs new grant agreement for next stage of Chernobyl work

23 February 2024

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant have signed Grant Agreement No.2 designed to help "solve the most urgent and critical needs" at the site.

The New Safe Confinement in position in 2019 (Image: EBRD)

The agreement provides support for the restoration of infrastructure at the site, with the completion of pre-design activities of the New Safe Confinement and the on-going dismantling of the unstable structures within it, as well as the procurement of vehicles and equipment for "reliable and safe operation of the New Safe Confinement shelter facility ... there will also be inspection of the deaerator stage and engine room protruding beyond the boundaries of the fence contour of the New Safe Confinement".

Andrii Tymchuk, deputy CEO of State Agency of Ukraine for Exclusion Zone Management, said: "This programme is intended to solve the most urgent and critical problems of the power plant. ChNPP personnel have gained successful experience in delivery of complicated projects, and we can be sure that this agreement will be implemented expertly."

The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) acts as the manager of grant funds provided by the International Cooperation Account for Chernobyl to the State Specialised Enterprise Chernobyl NPP (ChNPP).

Balthazar Lindauer, director of the EBRD nuclear safety department, said: "We are starting a new stage and the signing of the grant agreement symbolises the beginning of the operation of the ChNPP security programme."

The original shelter over the destroyed unit 4 at Chernobyl was constructed at pace, and the international Shelter Implementation Plan in the 1990s had three phases - firstly to stabilise it and secondly to build a larger secure construction to enclose it - the New Safe Confinement (NSC) which was completed in 2017 to pave the way for the dismantling and decommissioning stage.

According to World Nuclear Association, the hermetically sealed NSC "will allow engineers to remotely dismantle the 1986 structure that has shielded the remains of the reactor from the weather since the weeks after the accident. It will enable the eventual removal of the fuel-containing materials in the bottom of the reactor building and accommodate their characterisation, compaction, and packing for disposal. This task represents the most important step in eliminating nuclear hazard at the site - and the real start of dismantling."

The NSC is the largest moveable land-based structure ever built - with a span of 257 metres, a length of 162 metres, a height of 108 metres and a total weight of 36,000 tonnes equipped - and with a lifetime of 100 years has been designed to allow for the eventual dismantling of the ageing makeshift shelter from 1986 and the management of radioactive waste. It has also been designed to withstand temperatures ranging from -43°C to +45°C, a class-three tornado, and an earthquake with a magnitude of 6 on the Richter scale.

In December Chernobyl was given a six-year extension for work dismantling the parts of the original shelter facility most at risk of collapse.

The NSC has been funded by the international community through donations from more than 40 countries to the EBRD and cost about EUR2.1 billion (USD2.5 billion).

Researched and written by World Nuclear News