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Russia: Western Nations Help Finance Chernobyl Closure

London, 13 November 1996 (RFE/RL) -- A fund set up by the Western countries to upgrade safety at nuclear reactors in the former Soviet Union and Central and Eastern Europe is giving $150 million to finance safety improvements at the Chernobyl power plant.

The grant is part of the international effort to close Chernobyl by the year 2000. The money will be used to finance decommissioning facilities and short-term safety measures.

The grant agreement was signed in London yesterday for the Ukrainian side by Victor Chebrov, chairman of the Ukrainian State Committee on the use of Nuclear Energy, and Sergey Parashyn, director of the Chernobyl plant.

The grant will come from a multilateral fund administered by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

Joachim Jahnke, deputy vice president of the EBRD, said: "This is a very concrete step by the Ukrainian government and the international community towards the closure of Chernobyl."

The fund is administered by the EBRD on behalf of 15 contributors in Western Europe, North America and Japan. It has so far committed $320 million for projects in Bulgaria, Lithuania, Russia and Ukraine.

The grant will fund the safe storage of spent fuel assemblies from Chernobyl, and will be used to improve safety measures at reactor Number Three, which may be restarted soon prior to closure.

An EBRD statement said the grant will also fund a radioactive waste-treatment facility to treat a backlog of nuclear waste now stored in unsafe conditions at the station.

The nuclear safety project will be implemented by the Chernobyl plant management which will set up a project team including international experts in engineering, planning and procurement.

More than 50 percent of the work will be done by Ukrainian enterprises. Procurement of equipment for the project will be through open tendering by firms from donor and eastern countries.

The Ukrainian government, the G7 countries and the EU signed an agreement in December last year to provide $350 million to improve the safety and decommission the Chernobyl power plant.

Chernobyl was the site of the world's worst nuclear accident in April, 1986.