Work begins on Chernobyl shelter on anniversary

Apr 26, 2012 by Dmytro Gorshkov
Ukraine launches construction of a new shelter to permanently secure the stricken Chernobyl plant as it marked the 26th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear disaster.

Ukraine launched Thursday construction of a new shelter to permanently secure the stricken Chernobyl plant as it marked the 26th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear disaster.

President Viktor Yanukovych pressed a symbolic button at the construction site, watched by workers and ambassadors from countries including China and Japan that contributed to the huge project, expected to cost 1.5 billion euros.

"In the name of Ukraine, I express my deep thanks to all the donor countries to the Chernobyl Shelter Fund for their understanding and effective aid to our country in overcoming the consequences of the worst man-made disaster in ," Yanukovych said, as loomed over the site.

"We have felt that the whole world has come to help us."

An explosion during testing at the power plant in the early hours of April 26, 1986, sent into the atmosphere that spread across Europe, particularly contaminating Belarus, Ukraine and Russia.

An international drive has raised funds from governments towards building a new permanent covering to slide over a temporary concrete-and-steel shelter that was hastily erected after the disaster and has since developed cracks.

The 20,000-tonne arched structure that spans 257 metres, known as the New Safe Confinement, is designed to last for a century, and will contain hi-tech equipment to carry out safe decontamination work inside the ruined .

Ukraine launches construction of a new shelter to permanently secure the stricken Chernobyl plant as it marked the 26th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear disaster.

"This construction in its scale has no equals in the world," Yanukovych said.

The construction of the shelter is expected to cost 990 million euros and to be put in place in 2015, while the decontamination work on the site will push the total cost up to 1.5 billion euros ($2 billion).

Yanukovych said in his speech at the site that "the completion of this project will guarantee the environmental safety of all the surrounding land and make it impossible for radiation to reach the atmosphere."

Chernobyl is only around 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Kiev and lies close to the borders with Russia and Belarus. The area around the plant is still very contaminated and is designated as a depopulated "exclusion zone."

International donors have so far agreed to contribute 550 million euros ($730 million) to the project, with the balance coming from the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.

As the president visited the site, some 1,000 Chernobyl clean-up workers rallied in Kiev over cuts to their benefits in the latest of a string of angry protests over the austerity measure, the Interfax news agency reported.

The Soviet Union ordered thousands of people to take part in the clean-up in Ukraine following the Chernobyl accident, working without adequate protection.

Although only two people were killed in the initial explosions, the United Nations atomic agency says that 28 rescue workers died of radiation sickness in the first three months after the accident.

According to Ukrainian official figures, more than 25,000 of the cleanup workers, known as "liquidators" from then-Soviet Ukraine, Russia and Belarus have died since the disaster.

Ukraine on Thursday announced that it was awarding state honours to more than 40 of the liquidators and Yanukovych laid flowers and held a minute's silence at a memorial at the power station.

On Thursday, relatives of victims held a remembrance ceremony in front of a memorial in Kiev as soldiers in dress uniform stood guard. Chernobyl veterans also attended a memorial ceremony in Minsk.

Explore further: Ig Nobel winner: Using pork to stop nosebleeds

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

World remembers Chernobyl, haunted by nuclear fears

Apr 25, 2011

The world on Tuesday marks a quarter century since the world's worst nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in Ukraine, haunted by fears over the safety of atomic energy after the Japan earthquake.

World marks Chernobyl under shadow of Japan

Apr 26, 2011

The world on Tuesday marked a quarter century since the worst nuclear accident in history at Chernobyl in Ukraine, haunted by fears over the safety of atomic energy after the Japan earthquake.

Ukraine nuclear plant halts reactor as power fails

Apr 17, 2012

A reactor at a nuclear power station in Ukraine has been disconnected from the grid following an electrical failure but radiation levels were not elevated, authorities said on Tuesday.

Chernobyl nightmare haunts world 25 years on

Apr 17, 2011

The world next week remembers 25 years since the worst nuclear accident in history at Chernobyl, haunted by fears that the Japan earthquake has shown again the risk of atomic power sparking apocalypse.

Chernobyl nuke cleanup to be costly for decades

Apr 22, 2011

(AP) -- A quarter-century after the Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion, a week of meetings on the world's worst nuclear accident pressed home the message that the Chernobyl cleanup will remain expensive ...

Recommended for you

Ig Nobel winner: Using pork to stop nosebleeds

23 hours ago

There's some truth to the effectiveness of folk remedies and old wives' tales when it comes to serious medical issues, according to findings by a team from Detroit Medical Center.

History books spark latest Texas classroom battle

Sep 16, 2014

As Texas mulls new history textbooks for its 5-plus million public school students, some academics are decrying lessons they say exaggerate the influence of Christian values on America's Founding Fathers.

Flatow, 'Science Friday' settle claims over grant

Sep 16, 2014

Federal prosecutors say radio host Ira Flatow and his "Science Friday" show that airs on many National Public Radio stations have settled civil claims that they misused money from a nearly $1 million federal ...

User comments : 0