Chernobyl Shelter Fund gets $200 million funding boost

30 April 2015

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has secured the funding required to complete the Chernobyl New Safe Confinement (NSC) by the end of 2017. The giant structure is being built to cover the destroyed reactor 4 on the site of the 1986 nuclear accident in Ukraine.

The London-based bank - which administers contributions from the international community as manager of the Chernobyl decommissioning funds - announced yesterday that a donor conference had secured financing of €180 million ($201 million).

The G7 and European Commission confirmed an additional contribution of €165 million to the Chernobyl Shelter Fund, while other countries pledged €15 million.

“The solidarity with Ukraine shown today is quite remarkable and proof of the importance the international community attaches to the resolution of the Chernobyl legacy."

Klaus Rudischhauser,
European Commission

The G7, or Group of 7, consists of the finance ministers and central bank governors of seven major advanced economies as reported by the International Monetary Fund - Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the USA. Russia was added to the group from 1998 to 2014, when its membership was suspended.

The EBRD said several other countries had indicated that they would also make contributions to the fund in the near future. The bank's governors had already said in November 2014 that the EBRD would provide an additional €350 million.

The Chernobyl Shelter Fund was set up in 1997 to assist Ukraine in transforming Chernobyl into an environmentally safe state. The Shelter Implementation Plan is the strategic framework developed to overcome the consequences of the 1986 accident.

The EBRD has said that the total cost of the Shelter Implementation Plan, of which the NSC is the most prominent element, is estimated to be around €2.15 billion. The NSC alone accounts for €1.5 billion.

"Prior to these new pledges, the NSC project had been facing a funding gap of €615 million, which has now been reduced to €85 million by the international community. The new funds allow all works in Chernobyl to continue without delay. Meanwhile, efforts to raise the remaining shortfall will continue, with the EBRD covering any outstanding amount," the bank said.

The pledging event was chaired by State Secretary Jochen Flasbarth representing the German G7 Presidency and hosted by EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti.

Flasbarth said in the EBRD statement that the G7 members and the EU Commission "have traditionally taken the lead" in raising funds for the Chernobyl Shelter Project. "[We] are convinced that there is no responsible alternative to the completion of the project within the agreed cost and schedule. The NSC 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 affected."

Chakrabarti said the additional funds "will allow us to keep the project on track and gives us confidence that the NSC can be delivered on time and on budget".

Klaus Rudischhauser, European Commission deputy director general, said the European Commission was pledging €70 million to the Chernobyl Shelter Fund "in spite of the difficult financial situation we all face". He added: "[T]he solidarity with Ukraine shown today is quite remarkable and proof of the importance the international community attaches to the resolution of the Chernobyl legacy."

To date, 43 donor governments have contributed to the Chernobyl Shelter Fund. In addition to its role as fund manager the EBRD has provided €675 million of its own resources to support Chernobyl projects including the NSC.

The Russian government announced today that it will make an additional contribution to the fund of €10 million in two instalments. As such, the Russian Federation is "fully complying" with its international obligations to finance construction of the NSC.

With a height of 110 metres, a length of 165 metres, a span of 260m and a weight of more than 30,000 tonnes the NSC is the largest moveable land-based structure ever built. It has been constructed since 2010 in a cleared area in two halves which have been lifted and joined. The structure is currently being equipped with heavy duty cranes and other specialised equipment before it will be moved over the damaged reactor in late 2017. It will have a lifespan of a minimum of 100 years and allow for the future dismantling of the old shelter and its radioactive inventory as well as waste management operations.

The work on reactor 4 is not the only task for the international community in Chernobyl: The three reactors which continued operations after the 1986 accident also need to be decommissioned, the used fuel and radioactive waste treated and stored safely. For this purpose the international community is financing, through the Nuclear Safety Account, the Interim Storage Facility 2 at a cost in excess of €300 million and the Liquid Waste Treatment Facility.

The disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was the product of a flawed Soviet reactor design coupled with serious mistakes made by the plant operators. It was a direct consequence of Cold War isolation and the resulting lack of any safety culture.

Ukraine marked the 29th anniversary of the accident on 26 April, when United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon "remembered the hundreds of emergency workers who responded to the accident and the more than 330,000 people uprooted from their homes in its aftermath". Ban reiterated the commitment of the United Nations to support those affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and called for "a forward-looking strategy designed to further help the recovery of the affected areas and to work together for greater nuclear safety worldwide".

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News