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Ukraine: Conference To Raise Money For Chornobyl

Washington, 18 November 1997 (RFE/RL) - Ukraine and the United States will convene an international conference in New York on Thursday to raise money to build a permanent containment structure for the damaged nuclear reactor at Chornobyl.

Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and U.S. Vice President Al Gore will host what is being called a donors conference. Representatives from the Group of Seven -- the leading industrial democracies -- and the European Community are to attend.

Chornobyl was the site of the worst accident in the history of civilian nuclear power. Ukraine says it is still paying dearly for the April 1986 disaster. It has promised to close down the entire reactor complex in the year 2000, but Ukrainian officials say the country needs international help to meet this goal.

The first objective is to build a permanent structure to contain the reactor damaged eleven years ago. Experts say the temporary structure built at the time of the accident is deteriorating. Ukraine says it will cost $760 million to fix the problem.

The Group of Seven has already pledged $300 million and Ukraine has promised $150 million. The New York conference hopes to raise the rest of the money.