Government to pay €2m towards Chernobyl shelter

THE Government is to pay over €2 million toward building a protective shell around the destroyed Chernobyl nuclear reactor, it emerged yesterday.

Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern said almost €2.6m would be donated to the Chernobyl Shelter Fund (CSF) before the end of 2006.

The decision means over €7m has been made available since 1997 to help secure the stricken area and ensure the destroyed nuclear reactor is stable and environmentally safe.

“The accident in Chernobyl on April 26, 1986, is an event which has been seared into the collective memory of all of Europe,” Mr Ahern said. “The visible evidence of the silent devastation, caused by the accident, remains with us to this day.”

Mr Ahern said the plight of the people of Chernobyl was close to the country’s heart due to the work of Adi Roche in the Chernobyl Children’s Project.

Ms Roche praised the funding and said it was a shining example to other European states.

“This announcement throws down the gauntlet to our partners saying ‘hurry up’,” Ms Roche said.

Money gathered by the CSF goes towards helping Ukraine to transform the existing Chernobyl shelter covering the destroyed nuclear reactor into a stable and environmentally safe system.

The project was started after the original shelter, which was hastily built after the accident, had deteriorated and become unstable.

Officials have been gathering funds to assist Ukraine in its work since 1997, when the G7 nations and the European Commission set up the project.

The new pledge was made at a special conference of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which is managing the shelter fund project.

When the project was launched in 1997, the Government committed to €2.3m over a three-year period. It also pledged €2.3m for the years 2001 to 2003.

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