Chernobyl fund still short

An international conference will be held in October to raise $600m still needed to stabilise the shelter around the wreckage of Chernobyl’s number four reactor, which exploded in 1986. The international community is increasingly concerned that the concrete sarcophagus hastily erected over the ruined reactor after the disaster is deteriorating to the point of collapse […]

An international conference will be held in October to raise $600m still needed to stabilise the shelter around the wreckage of Chernobyl’s number four reactor, which exploded in 1986.

The international community is increasingly concerned that the concrete sarcophagus hastily erected over the ruined reactor after the disaster is deteriorating to the point of collapse – an event that could precipitate a second widespread dispersal of radioactivity.

After a $1.6bn project drawn up by an international alliance of contractors to build a huge new shelter over the plant was dismissed last year as too expensive, a second group, led by the German consultant Trischler, came up with a more modest proposal to reinforce the existing structure.

The leaders of the G7 countries discussed this at their Denver summit in June but approved only $300m for a project that has been estimated to cost three times as much.

It is thought the G7 commitment was the minimum needed to get the project under way.

While in essence the plan involves reinforcing the shelter’s walls and installing a new roof, it comprises 22 separate tasks and 253 discrete activities.

These will be staggered over several years, so the full $900m will not be required at the outset.

The October conference will target charitable organisations around the world, with particular emphasis on the big US foundations.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has been asked to administer a separate fund for the project and to help Ukraine administer the programme.