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Decommissioning the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant

Closing the three units of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant not damaged in the 1986 accident and still operating afterwards, was an urgent priority for the international community in the 1990s.

Once the decision to close the units had been taken, their decommissioning became an important element of the international support efforts for Ukraine.

As with most nuclear plants in the former Soviet Union, there were serious shortcomings in the technical and financial provisions for the decommissioning process and an urgent need for investment in the site’s infrastructure.

Assistance initially focused on urgent safety and security upgrades of unit 3, which was the last operating reactor and shut down only in 2000. Later the main task became the safe decommissioning of all three reactor units at Chernobyl.

While some decommissioning infrastructure projects have been funded through bilateral aid, two key Chernobyl facilities are being financed by the EBRD- managed Nuclear Safety Account (NSA).

  • The Interim Spent Fuel Storage Facility 2 (ISF-2), currently in the final phase of commissioning, will process, dry and cut more than 21,000 fuel assemblies from the Chernobyl units 1-3, which will then be placed in double walled canisters and stored in concrete modules on site.  The spent fuel will be stored safely and securely for a minimum period of 100 years. Once all fuel has been transferred to the new ISF-2 facility, the existing fuel storage facilities can be decommissioned. This will represent a major step forward in increasing nuclear safety at the site.
  • The Liquid Radioactive Waste Treatment Plant (LRTP) retrieves highly active liquids from their current storage tanks, processes them into a solid state and moves them into containers for long-term storage. The plant is complete and fully operational.

To date, the NSA has committed €280 million, provided by 18 donors, to decommissioning and safety projects in Chernobyl. In addition, the EBRD has provided €235 million to support the construction of the ISF-2.