Funding to bolster fire safety at Chernobyl

15 November 2022

The international community is to provide up to EUR1.1 million (USD1.1 million) for the procurement of essential fire safety equipment at the Chernobyl exclusion zone in Ukraine. The Russian military occupation of the area led to the destruction or looting of specialised firefighting and forestry equipment.

The Chernobyl plant site (Image: SSE ChNPP)

At the International Chernobyl Cooperation Account (ICCA) Assembly meeting, donors approved a plan presented by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Ukrainian authorities. The grant will be channelled through the ICCA managed by the EBRD.

The funds are intended to finance the urgent procurement of fire safety equipment that is required to re-establish the zone administration's capacity to prevent, detect and fight forest fires across the 30-kilometer zone.

Following the occupation of the Chernobyl plant and surrounding area by Russian troops, more than 90% of the administration's specialised firefighting and forestry machinery was reportedly destroyed or removed.

Forest, turf and peatland fires in the zone are a constant and significant concern due to radioactive contamination of the territory.

"The Russian military occupation of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant site left a trail of devastation," said Balthasar Lindauer, EBRD Director, Nuclear Safety Department. "The infrastructure required to support operations at the world's most vulnerable nuclear facility was critically damaged. The EBRD has a long and proud history of supporting Chernobyl's decommissioning and safety and we would like to make sure that years of patient progress at the site through international collaboration are not jeopardised.

"Today's announcement signals the beginning of longer-term support for Chernobyl. I would also like to pay tribute to our international partners and to the resilience of our Ukrainian colleagues in these challenging times."

The ICCA was established in November 2020 by the EBRD at the request of the Ukrainian government. It was set up as a multilateral fund to support the development of a comprehensive plan for Chernobyl, to consolidate existing planning as well as optimise and integrate all approaches to radioactive waste and used nuclear fuel. Recently, the scope of the ICCA has been broadened to support the restoration of safety and security within the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

Chernobyl was occupied by Russian forces from 24 February until the end of March, when they withdrew. The EBRD subsequently calculated that damage caused to buildings, equipment and infrastructure will cost at least EUR100 million to repair.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News