Ukraine launched construction of a new facility Wednesday to stockpile industrial nuclear waste in the contaminated zone around its Chernobyl plant, site of the worst nuclear accident of the last 25 years.
The facility will be launched in early 2013 and will only house Ukrainian nuclear waste, a large part of which is currently stored in "poorly equipped" locations, Chernobyl plant's spokeswoman Maya Rudenko said.
"It will not be for material from nuclear plants" but waste from medical facilities and industries, she told AFP. The facility will have capacity for 400,000 capsules with such waste and have a lifespan of 50 years.
The project will "allow to place all the industrial sources of radiation under the same roof for 15 years, securing our environment," said Volodymyr Holosha, the official in charge of the contaminated "zone of exclusion" around the Chernobyl plant, Interfax reported.
The site will not be a threat to the environment, said Rudenko. "The way this waste is currently stored is much more dangerous," she said.
Construction of the storage facility is estimated to cost over 11 million euros ($14.6 million) to come from Britain, which will provide eight million British pounds ($12 million) and the European Commission (two million euros, or $2.6 million).
The Chernobyl nuclear plant is located about 100 kilometres (60 miles) north of Kiev and close to the borders with Russia and Belarus. Its fourth reactor exploded in April 1986 with fallout hitting the three Soviet republics along with a large part of Europe.
The area around the plant is still very contaminated and designated as a depopulated "zone of exclusion" whose population was evacuated and where no economic activity is allowed.
Explore further: Earthworms as nature's free fertilizer