Decommissioning the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant

Closing the three units of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant which were 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, decommissioning them became an important part of international efforts to assist 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 focussed first on urgent safety and security upgrades in Chernobyl’s unit 3, which was the last in operation and closed 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 (ISF2), currently in the final phase of construction, will process, dry and cut more than 21,000 fuel assemblies from Chernobyl units 1-3, which will then be placed in Double Walled canistera and stored  in concrete modules on site.  The spent fuel will then be stored safely and securely or a minimum period of a hundred years. Completion of the facility, designed and built by the US company Holtec, is currently scheduled for 2017. Once all fuel has been transferred to the ISF2 the current storage 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.

As of 2016 the NSA has committed some €280 million, provided by 18 donors, to decommissioning and safety projects in Chernobyl. The EBRD provides more than €200 million to the construction of the ISF-2. On 28 Nov 2014 the EBRD Board of Governors approved an additional contribution of €350 million for the completion of the New Safe Confinement bringing the overall EBRD grant for this project to € 500 million.