CHERNOBYL: EUROPEAN COMMISSION AND UKRAINIAN MINISTRY FOR EMERGENCY SITUATIONS MEET; JOURNALISTS VISIT EU-FUNDED WASTE STORAGE FACILITY (20/06/2008)
Following the inauguration of the Vektor complex by Ukrainian President Yuschenko on 26 April 2008, H.E. Mr. Ian Boag, Ambassador, Head of the European Commission’s Delegation to Ukraine, and H.E. Mr. Volodymyr Shandra, Minister of Ukraine for Emergencies, met this morning to take stock of progress on joint Chernobyl projects. Both presented afterwards the current status of the industrial complex for radioactive waste storage at the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone to EU and Ukrainian journalists. The European Commission has been actively contributing to the transformation of the Chernobyl site into an environmentally-safe area, in close collaboration with Ukraine, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and other international partners.
The realisation of the Vektor complex, a state-of-the-art disposal facility for nuclear waste, is a success story. It was completed and handed over to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in December 2007, for further commissioning activities with the Ukrainian Nuclear Regulatory Agency. The Vektor complex is a major part of the Industrial Complex for Solid Radioactive Waste Management at the Chernobyl site (ICSRM).
The ICSRM is a set of four distinct, but integrated, installations, the construction of which is jointly funded by the EC (€43.6 million) and the Ukrainian Government (€3.4 million): three at the Chernobyl NPP site and one, the Vektor complex, in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Good co-operation between the European Commission and Ukraine has allowed the integration of independent activities in view of reaching in an optimal way waste management objectives, key to the wider purpose of mitigating the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster.
Soon, another part of the ICSRM, the interim storage facility, will also be handed over to its end user, the Chernobyl NPP. Once commissioned and put in operation, it will help to cope with the demands of environmental remediation projects under way at the Chernobyl site.
This positive experience reinforces the European Commission's intent to support further nuclear waste management actions in Ukraine in the framework of the new Instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation (INSC) that has now replaced the Tacis technical assistance programme. More integrated projects will be proposed, and co-financing of the relevant specific activities will be encouraged.
The other parts of the ICSRM have progressed significantly, thanks to the contribution of the Ukrainian Ministry for Emergencies, the European Commission, the ICSRM contractor and the many Ukrainian Contractors that are active in this project. The project itself is constantly monitored by a Steering Group to which all contractual parties participate.
Ambassador BOAG confirmed the European Commission’s commitment to pursue, together with its partners, the timely completion of all ICSRM contractual activities within the intended budget. Moreover, further support to complementary actions has already been foreseen, with a significant budget that will be implemented in 2008. Particular efforts are to be provided in support of the licensing process of the ICSRM by the Ukrainian nuclear regulatory body.
In this perspective, both sides committed to continue cooperation in the field of radioactive waste management, and to continue discussions with their partners on future assistance to help to transform the Chernobyl site into an environmentally safe area.