The management of the permanent shelter placed over the burnt out nuclear unit at Chornobyl has been handed to the Ukrainian authorities during an official ceremony held today.
This is an important milestone in overcoming Chornobyl’s deadly and costly legacy. It will make the site more environmentally safe, allowing the dismantling of the provisional shelter and the management of radioactive waste. The construction of the permanent shelter started in 2012 and cost €1.5 billion, with contributions from the international community. The European Commission has been a major donor to the construction of the shelter, with over €431 million.
On this occasion, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, said: “Chornobyl will remain in our minds forever as a tragic and devastating nuclear accident, with unprecedented consequences. Today’s handover of the permanent shelter to the Ukrainian authorities turns a page in history, allowing for the safe management of the remaining radioactive materials and waste, and better protection of the environment. The EU has shown its solidarity with the people of Ukraine and with all those affected across the borders. Today’s achievement has been possible thanks to international solidarity”.
This milestone is the result of over a decade of work, since the preliminary design was approved in 2004. The international community and in particular the EU have been instrumental in overcoming the Chornobyl-related challenges since Ukraine signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the G7 countries and the EU in December 1995. As a next step, the EU expects Ukraine to ensure that all the necessary organisational and financial provisions are taken to ensure the operation and maintenance of the facility.
To date, a large number of countrieshave contributed to the Chornobyl Shelter Fund, which made possible the construction of the permanent shelter. In addition, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has provided €478 million of its own resources to support different projects at the Chornobyl site.
During the years, the EU has supported various Chornobyl-related projects under its bilateral program with Ukraine. Work continues on other projects related to the safe and secure storage of spent nuclear fuel, safety improvements of other nuclear power plants in the country and socio-economic projects such as the supply of medical equipment as well as the provision of equipment for the incineration of contaminated wood.