Ukraine thanks Russia, US for Chernobyl aid

Indo Asian News Service

Chernobyl (Ukraine), April 27 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Ukraine marked the 27th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear disaster by thanking Russia, the US and other countries for their support in funding the construction of a new covering structure for the remains of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

"On behalf of Ukraine, I would like to express gratitude to European countries, the European Commission, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Russia, the US, Japan and Canada for their active participation in the Chernobyl Shelter Fund," Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said during a visit to the plant.

The plant was abandoned in 1986 after an explosion there that sent a plume of radiation over large parts of Europe.

Yanukovych said by 2014, Kiev will have spent over $100 million on the new shelter, which is designed to be slid over the existing sarcophagus covering the remains of Unit 4, where the explosion happened.

The New Safe Confinement project, which aims to transform the site into a safe and environmentally stable area, is funded through contributions by over 40 donor nations to the EBRD Chernobyl Shelter Fund. Russia has contributed a total of 50 million euros to the fund.

The project's implementation will significantly reduce the risk of further radiological contamination and facilitate the deconstruction of the existing sarcophagus, which was built soon after the disaster and has been deteriorating for some years.

The 29,000-tonne new covering structure will enclose a territory measuring 257 metres by 164 metres using spans 110 metres high, and is due for completion in 2015.

--IANS/RIA Novosti