The EBRD, the Government of Ukraine and the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant have signed a grant agreement under which the Bank will provide €135 million from its own resources to the international efforts to transform the plant into a safe and secure site.
Almost 23 years ago Chernobyl was the scene of the worst nuclear accident in history, when reactor 4 exploded in the early hours of 26 April 1986. Radioactive material was discharged outside the destroyed reactor and emergency measures, implemented under extremely hazardous conditions, could only provide temporary solutions.
The international community has been involved in the transformation of Chernobyl since the 1990s and appointed the EBRD as administrator of its funds. The Bank is currently overseeing the Nuclear Safety Account through which the nuclear decommissioning of Chernobyl reactors 1-3 is being financed and the Chernobyl Shelter Fund which deals with the damaged reactor 4.
A major milestone was achieved in September 2007 when two key contracts were signed. One is for the construction of the New Safe Confinement, a structure that will be built over reactor 4. The second contract is for the completion of the Interim Storage Facility 2, a project to deal with spent fuels from reactors 1-3.
The EBRD grant will be used to support the completion of these two key projects which are currently in preparatory stages with design work nearing completion. At the same time ground works are also being carried out on the site. Upon completion, the New Safe Confinement will be the largest such project in the history of engineering.
Final designs for both projects are scheduled in 2009 and completion of the construction works is currently planned for 2012. The EBRD grant will support the Interim Storage Facility 2 project with €77 million and the New Safe Confinement with €58 million. Further contributions, however, remain essential because under current, preliminary estimates the new shelter alone will cost in excess of €600 million. The EBRD grant is therefore seen as a catalyst that will give additional momentum to the efforts of the international donor community.
The Chernobyl Shelter Fund has so far received contributions and donations of almost €800 million from Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, European Community, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The Nuclear Safety Account has received contributions close to €300 million from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, European Community, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.