(December 4, 1997) An international conference held in New York late November (attended by some 50 nations) pledged a contribution of US$37 million to help fix the Chernobyl `sarcophagus' hurriedly constructed after the 1986 accident. The G7 group of industrialised nations earlier promised $300 million for the project while Ukraine will contribute another $150 million.
(482.4790) WISE Amsterdam -Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma said that the US$337 million pledged by various countries was enough money to start repair work on the leaking cover enclosing Chernobyl's destroyed fourth reactor. The US$760 million project, called the Shelter Implementation Plan consists of 22 technically complex and potentially hazardous projects to transform the sarcophagus into a safer and more environmentally stable condition by 2005 and replace the one constructed soon after the 1986 catastrophe at the Ukrainian power plant. The plan is administrated by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
The G-7 (Group of seven industrialised countries) and the European Union have promised US$300 million for the project, and the Ukrainian government is expected to pay another US$150 million dollars in in-kind costs and infrastructure support. Germany will pay US$52 million, France US$40 million, US$30 million from Britain, Italy US$22 million, the United States pledged US$78 million, Canada US$20 million, Japan US$22.5 million, Norway US$5 million, Switzerland U$4.6 million and Kuwait US$4 million. Together with the contributions of other countries attending the meeting, half of the money needed is now promised.
Kuchma called the current sarcophagus "a nuclear time bomb" not intended for long-term use. "The roof is leaking. The water supply for millions of people is threatened," said US Energy Secretary Federico Pena, who added that a collapse of the sarcophagus could provoke a nuclear chain reaction. Yuri Kostenko, Ukrainian minister of the environment and nuclear security said 12 percent of the Ukrainian budget every year is paid for work at Chernobyl and programs to aid civilians affected by the accident.
- AFP, 17 & 20 November
- Reuter, 22 November 1997