Chernobyl May Become Nuclear Burial Ground

CHERNOBYL, Ukraine -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko is ready to consider the issue of burying spent nuclear fuel from other countries in the Chernobyl region and make a political decision, subject to approval by experts and scientists, and after debating the problem publicly, he said at a news conference in Chernobyl.

An engineer stands with Ukranian President Viktor Yushchenko (L) in front of a monitor showing the unloading of nuclear fuel from the third unit of the Chernobyl nuclear power station in the plant's control room

Yushchenko said such proposals could be discussed after a thorough examination of all stages of the project, his press service told RBC. “This is a long-term project, and it must be approved by the public,” the Ukrainian head-of-state said, stressing that he would never make such decisions without public approval, however economically feasible they might be.

The second spent nuclear storage facility of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant would come on stream in 2010, Yushchenko said. The construction project is being examined by international experts. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) pointed to the effective performance of a Swiss auditing firm, the Ukrainian President said.

He expressed hope that the auditors would finish their work by the end of this year, and funds would be allocated for the final stage of the construction of the storage facility.

The technologically complicated construction problem was being solved consistently, Yushchenko added.

The second spent nuclear storage facility of the Chernobyl power plant is designed to provide a long-term safe storage of the whole of the power plant’s spent nuclear fuel. It was supposed to be put into use back in 2003, but the construction was suspended by the Chernobyl plant in April 2003 due to significant defects.

The contractor, the French company Framatome ANP, says it would take it about four years and a half to complete construction, which is financed by the EBRD.

An estimated 600,000 people were exposed to large doses of radiation as a result of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. 4,000, most of them children, were diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

Ukraine and Belarus lost 784,320 hectares of agricultural lands and 694,200 hectares of forest lands after the Chernobyl catastrophe. Re-cultivation of those territories requires significant spending on fertilizers, supplement feeds and special cultivation techniques.

Source: RosBusinessConsulting