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

Mugabe Dismisses Male-Female Equality

'It is not possible that women can be at par with men' incoming African Union president declares on eve of summit More

Somali Terror Suspect's Light Sentence Raises Questions

Abdullahi Yusuf, 18, could have spent 15 years in prison but judge instead sentenced him to a halfway house, and a program to try to integrate him back into the community More

Video Kobani Ravaged Following Kurdish Ouster of IS Militants

Even so, hundreds of refugees sheltering in Turkey seek to return; Kurdish forces hold some back, saying fighting continues 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.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid