Ukraine's president: Chernobyl disaster will cost $180 billion in 2015

A comprehensive development plan is needed for the regions affected by the Chernobyl Nuclear Power plant explosion in 1986. Damages from the disaster could reach $180 billion in 2015.

This is according to the president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych who visited the Chernobyl plant on the 27th anniversary of the nuclear disaster. Construction of a new safe confinement could be one facet of the plan, thus converting the area into an ecologically safe area.

About 2,700 people are still employed at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power plant, despite the fact that the last reactor has been shut down in 2000. Ukraine's parliament has adopted a program of plant decommissioning which includes four stages: extracting the nuclear fuel (2010-2013), conservation of the reactor systems (2013-2022), decreasing radioactivity of the systems (2022-2045), and dismantling them (2045-2065).

Mykola Azarov, Ukraine's prime minister, said work on the new safe confinement on the fourth reactor at the Chernobyl plant are underway and will be concluded in 2015. The New Safe Confinement project, supported by more than 40 donor nations, is funded through The Chernobyl Shelter Fund, established in December 1997.

Currently, the reactor is contained by the original sarcophagus, constructed hastily as the firemen and rescue team workers put out the fire in the reactor. More than 400,000 cubic meters of concrete and 7,300 tons of metal were used to lock in tons of uranium, plutonium, radioactive corium and contaminated dust. Risking their health and life, about 600,000 people participated in the rescue works at Chornobyl over the period of several years after the disaster.

As a result of the explosion at the fourth reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power plant, located 100 kilometers north of Ukraine's capital, Kiev, radioactive substances contaminated the area of 145,000 square kilometers, including the territories of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. Nearly 5 million people were affected by the disaster. The area with the radius of 30 kilometers around the plant remains officially uninhabited.

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