News / Europe

World Pledges $780 Million for New Shell for Chernobyl Nuclear Plant

French PM Francois Fillon, left, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, center, and President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso during the Chernobyl Pledging Conference in Kiev, Ukraine, April 19, 2011
French PM Francois Fillon, left, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, center, and President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso during the Chernobyl Pledging Conference in Kiev, Ukraine, April 19, 2011

Multimedia

Audio
James Brooke

The Fukushima factor reaches around the world to help raise funds for a new containment shell for the stricken nuclear power plant at Chernobyl, Ukraine.

One week before the 25th anniversary of the nuclear power plant explosion at Chernobyl, world leaders pledged Tuesday to provide $780 million for the construction of a shelter designed to house the toxic remains for another century.

Rain, rust and snow have weakened the first shelter, built 25 years ago and designed to last 20.

Laurin Dodd, an American engineer who is directing the new containment project, described the condition of the existing shelter, often called the sarcophagus.

"The sarcophagus itself had very large openings in it the size of picture windows, with small creatures going in and out and birds flying in and out," Dodd noted.

Chernobyl suffered the what was then the world's worst nuclear power accident. The explosion sent a plume of contaminants one kilometer into the air over Ukraine. Winds carried radioactive clouds north over Russia and Belarus. 330,000 people had to be moved from their homes.

Today, millions of people live on contaminated land. A central core, is closed forever to human habitation. The governments of Belarus and Ukraine devote 5 percent of their national budgets to treating survivors and patrolling the no go zone.

Despite this legacy, there was little optimism back in February when the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) took reporters on a tour of Chernobyl, hoping to raise world interest in paying for the new containment shell.

Then on March 11, a wall of water crashed into the nuclear power plants in Fukushima, on the Pacific Coast of Japan. Balthasar Lindauer, deputy nuclear safety director at the European Bank, described the Fukushima factor.

"Today at the pledging conference, Fukushima was mentioned very frequently, and I think it certainly has drawn attention to Chernobyl," said Lindauer.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told the conference that Chernobyl and recent events in Fukushima, Japan, were a reminder that nuclear risks may not stop at a country's borders.

He pledged $156 million from the European Union to rebuild the Chernobyl containment shell. The United States delegation, led by former United States National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski made the largest single nation donation: $123 million.

By the end of the day, pledges had come in for three quarters of a final $1 billion needed to complete the project. All in all the new shell is to cost $2 billion and should be complete by the end of 2015.

Vince Novak, EBRD Nuclear Safety Director, led the foreign press group through the Chernobyl during the snows of February. Tuesday he told VOA from Kyiv:

"As a fund manager I am greatly relieved because that tells me that we can proceed full speed ahead with both of the large projects that we need to complete," said Novak.

Work has already started on the giant structure. To protect workers' health, it is being built 300 meters away from the Chernobyl plant, which still holds 200 tons of radioactive fuel and material.

Laurin Dodd explains that it will be built on rails.

"When it is actually ready to be slid into place it will be, I am told, one of the largest structures ever moved on land," noted Dodd.

The new shell will be two football fields wide and two and a half football fields long.

"The new safe confinement shell will be something like 16 or 17 stories high. You could fit the Statue of Liberty quite comfortably inside of it," added Dodd.

Inside, a central beam will hold a remote controlled moveable crane. This will be used to pick apart the old shell and then remove the molten radioactive mass from the bowels of the old plant. Special ventilation systems will filter air for release to the atmosphere and a heating systems will prevent the buildup of condensation.

"It's being designed for a 100 year life, which means that we have to maintain corrosion control over that period of time.  Basically, we have to prevent rusting. So there will be extensive heating and ventilation systems," Dodd said.

On Sunday Tokyo Electric Power, operator of the damaged reactors at Fukushima, announced that it plans to build its own concrete and steel containment structure with an air filter. It expects to have this shell in place by the end of this year. It did not say how long that structure is designed to last.

You May Like

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa

Official says WHO is 'reasonably confident' countries bordering those hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are not seeing the virus crossing their borders More

South Sudan Crisis Threatens Development

Economic costs and lost development opportunities in South Sudan have erased what little progress the country has made since independence in 2011 More

Ukrainian PM Warns: Russia May Try to Disrupt Sunday Poll

Arseniy Yatsenyuk orders full security mobilization for parliamentary election to prevent ‘terrorist acts’ from being carried out More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid