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Ukraine Ready To Build Chornobyl Shelter

President Viktor Yanukovych, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano talk to the media as they visit the Chornobyl nuclear power plant on April 20, 2011
Ukraine says it has enough money to start construction of a new shelter on the site of the world's worst nuclear disaster.

Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Hryshchenko told President Viktor Yanukovych that construction at the former Chornobyl nuclear power plant could begin this year and should be completed in 2015.

Anton Usov, a spokesman for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development - which manages the project - said international donors have so far pledged some $940 million.

The final price tag for the project is estimated at $1.04 billion.

The so-called sarcophagus was built over the damaged reactor at Chornobyl after the 1986 accident. Cracks in the structure, however, led to calls for it to be replaced.

The accident at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant on April 26, 1986 spread radioactive material over much of Europe.

The accident caused the deaths, within a few weeks, of 30 workers and radiation injuries to over a hundred others.

Years later, a spike in cases of thyroid cancer and leukemia were registered in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.

compiled from agency reports