- ICCA donors approve €1.1 million grant to improve fire safety at Chernobyl
- Specialised equipment will help fight forest fires in the exclusion zone
- Longer-term support of Chernobyl
The international community is stepping up efforts to improve fire safety in the Chernobyl exclusion zone (CEZ) by approving a new grant for the procurement of essential fire safety equipment. It will be channelled through the International Chernobyl Cooperation Account (ICCA) managed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
At the ICCA Assembly meeting donors approved a plan presented by the EBRD and the Ukrainian authorities. The funds of up to €1.1 million are intended to finance the urgent procurement of fire safety equipment that is required to re-establish the CEZ administration’s capacity to prevent, detect and fight forest fires across the 30-kilometer zone. Following the occupation of the CEZ by Russian troops from February to April 2022, more than 90 per cent of the administration’s specialised firefighting and forestry machinery was destroyed or displaced.
Forest, turf and peatland fires in the CEZ are a constant and significant concern due to radioactive contamination of the territory after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. In April 2020, around 50,000 hectares of forest and undergrowth, representing about 20 per cent of the exclusion zone, were destroyed by fires.
Balthasar Lindauer, EBRD Director, Nuclear Safety Department, said: “The Russian military occupation of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant site left a trail of devastation. The infrastructure required to support operations at the world’s most vulnerable nuclear facility was critically damaged. The EBRD has a long and proud history of supporting Chernobyl’s decommissioning and safety and we would like to make sure that years of patient progress at the site through international collaboration are not jeopardised. Today’s announcement signals the beginning of longer-term support for Chernobyl. I would also like to pay tribute to our international partners and to the resilience of our Ukrainian colleagues in these challenging times.”
The ICCA was established in November 2020 by the EBRD at the request of the government of Ukraine. It was set up as a multilateral fund to support the development of a comprehensive plan for Chernobyl, to consolidate existing planning as well as optimise and integrate all approaches to radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel. Recently, the scope of the Account has been broadened to support the restoration of safety and security within the CEZ.