Chernobyl: sarcophagus completion still not guaranteed

Courtesy: Research in Germany

German G7 Presidency endeavours to secure additional funds

Germany is expediting the efforts to complete the Chernobyl sarcophagus during its G7 presidency. The additional shelter around the destroyed reactor in Ukraine is to prevent further hazards to people and the environment due to nuclear radiation. However, the financing of the New Safe Containment (NSC), 108 metres high, 162 metres long and spanning 257 metres, is as yet not secured: There is still a funding gap of 615 million euros to complete the project. The G7 pledge made in 1997 to convert the site into an environmentally safe condition in return for closing down the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is at risk.

sacrophagus-travel-chernobylTime is short, as funds available will be used up by the end of 2014; any further delay will increase costs and, in particular, security concerns as the sarcophagus erected at the time as a temporary shelter shows more and more cracks and might collapse.

Germany, as the current G7 presidency, has a central role to play in raising additional funds. The G7 Nuclear Safety and Security Group (NSSG) dealing with Chernobyl issues has agreed on a catalogue of criteria following intensive negotiations. This catalogue will enable the G7 and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to prepare their contributions. A topic of special concern was to avoid substantial funding requests in the future by contractual risk sharing.

The EBRD, mandated by the G7 to serve as project manager, will contribute substantially to closing the financing gap. The individual contributions have as yet not been fixed, as this decision ultimately has to be taken on the political level.

Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks commented: “Germany is committed to nuclear safety and security. Our national contribution will therefore be substantial and we will convince our partners to act likewise. It is a question of credibility for the G7 to permanently block off the nuclear ruins of Chernobyl from the surrounding environment with a safe sarcophagus.”

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