Among all the tragedies that mankind has already faced Chernobyl catastrophe has no analogies. It has left its disastrous trace on the ecology, multiplied health hazards of humans, caused deterioration of social, economic and life conditions.
It all started on April 25, 1986 when a combination of circumstances provoked a series of blasts at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (CNPP). They led to Reactor No. 4 ruination and emission of a huge amount of radioactive substances into the atmosphere. It was 1:24 a.m., April 26th.
The catastrophe made 5 million people suffer brought contamination to more than 145.000 square kilometers of the terrain and 5.000 settlements at the Ukrainian, Belarusian and Russian territories.
On December 20, 1995 Memorandum of Understanding on Chernobyl Closure was signed between Ukraine and G-7/European Union in Ottawa, Canada. Ukraine shut down CNPP until the end of its life cycle exploitation.
Relieving Chernobyl consequences, decommissioning CNPP and transforming it into ecologically safe “Shelter” system demand heavy expenses. Taking tens of millions US dollars annually from the state budget Ukraine performs all necessary activities but is unable to cover independently the expenses in their full amount. That is why the accounts for the countries- donors were opened in the EBRD. The money from the contributors is planned for the realization of Chernobyl projects.
Chernobyl Shelter Fund is being kept active due to a special mechanism. The latter suggests donors’ conferences as one of its elements. The first event of that kind was held on November 20, 1997 in New-York. The delegates’ contribution amounted to $343 million dollars. The second similar meeting was held in May 2005. The money raised then reached approximate level of $185 million dollars.
The 2nd conference of country-donors took place in Berlin (July 5, 2000). During the course of the conference a sum of $325 million dollars was contributed to the Chernobyl Fund.
However, the Fund amount was not enough to cover all the expenses. The additional financial assistance was required to finalize Chernobyl projects out of which the most important are a) a new Sarcophagus or “Shelter” structure and b) a new spent fuel storage facility (ISF-2).
Therefore, on April 19, 2011 Kyiv hosted the Chernobyl Pledging Conference in Partnership with G8 aimed at raising money to complete the clean up of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site. The event raised €550 million to help complete the construction of a long-term shelter over the reactor. The new cover will slide over the top of the damaged reactor and is expected to seal it until the end of the century. After the new shelter is in place, the reactor can be disassembled. Some of the money raised will be used to build a storage facility for nuclear waste from Chernobyl.
Shelter construction at the Chornobyl NPP will start on April 26 this year, President Viktor Yanukovych told in Seoul in the framework of 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit held on March 27, 2012.
According to the President of Ukraine, raising funds for the construction was a joint accomplishment of the international community. "Ukraine has become an active participant in the international nuclear security cooperation… and our partners around the world feel it," Viktor Yanukovych said.
Viktor Yanukovych reminded of yet another initiative of Ukraine: to build a world-class research center at the Chornobyl NPP. "25 years of experience that Ukraine has could be useful for the world," he said.
The President also said it would be right for Japan to also take part in creating the concept of such a center given that it too has the experience of fighting the Fukushima disaster.
Ukraine adheres to the principles of responsibility and proactiveness in its nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation policy which cement the country’s profound understanding of the necessity to further develop nuclear energy under the criteria of its secured, innovative and peaceful usage. During the 20 years of its independence, Ukraine has been a consistent proponent of global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Clear example of manifestation of such position is Ukraine’s historic decision to entirely eliminate its highly enriched nuclear materials.
Ukraine has fully fulfilled the obligation it had assumed at the Washington Nuclear Security Summit to remove highly enriched uranium from its territory, President Viktor Yanukovych said in his speech at the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit.
The new approach to Chernobyl problems demand that social and economic issues get into focus of attention and real changes come to local communities.
Chernobyl lesson is a horrible experience but at the same time it is not only a warning for Ukraine but for other nations as well. The main conclusion is that this disaster should not happen again.