Chornobyl disaster anniversary: New safe confinement to be commissioned in November
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has announced on the 31st anniversary of the Chornobyl disaster that a new Safe Confinement Sarcophagus over the ruined nuclear power plant is to be commissioned in November 2017, according to UNIAN.
“I’d like to thank our international partners. The new safe confinement has already capped the old sarcophagus,” Poroshenko said at an official event on Wednesday, April 26, which was also attended by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
Neighboring Belarus also suffered from the nuclear accident.
Poroshenko recalled that the world’s largest moveable land-based facility, a new Safe Confinement Sarcophagus, built by JV NOVARKA, slid over a distance of 327 meters to its final resting place, having safely enclosed the damaged fourth Chornobyl nuclear reactor on November 20, 2016.
“In November 2017, this confinement is planned to be put into operation,” he said. “It should protect us, our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in the next hundred years,” he said. “This is one of the most ambitious engineering projects in human history. More than 40 donor countries have united around a noble goal – to protect humanity from the ‘radioactive’ consequences of the tragedy. This is another proof of priority of environmental safety in the world’s policy,” the president said.
The total cost of the new safety shield is EUR 1.5 billion. The arch is more than 350 feet high and 500 feet long. It weighs 36,000 tonnes. It is 3.5 times heavier than the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, and can hide the New-York-based Statue of Liberty.
The arch is designed to create a leak-tight barrier to contain radioactive substances for at least the next 100 years. It was developed by NOVARKA, a 50/50 joint venture formed by VINCI CONSTRUCTION and BOUYGUES TRAVAUX PUBLICS.
The new arched structure has been under construction since 2012. On November 14, 2016, the company started the process of the installation of the facility.
The completion of the facility was scheduled for the end of 2016, it is to be commissioned in 2017 after all required tests have been conducted, Director of Chornobyl nuclear power plant Ihor Hramotkin said in April 2016. In May 2016, the Group of Seven (G7) member states confirmed their readiness to cooperate with Ukraine to eliminate the aftermath of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster.
According to archive data, at 01:23 on April 26, 1986, a reactor at power unit 4 of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant was completely destroyed in a series of thermal explosions. A significant amount of radioactive substances was released into the environment.
The accident is regarded as the largest of its kind in the history of nuclear energy, both in terms of victims and the economic losses.
After the Chornobyl disaster, 116,000 people were evacuated from the affected areas, while another 230,000 people were resettled from the contaminated zone, later called the Exclusion Zone. A total of 167,653 victims died, including 2,929 cleanup workers; 83% of victims, including 92% of the emergency response team, are suffering from various diseases.
EU ambassadors approve visa-free regime for Ukraine
On Wednesday, the Committee of Permanent Representatives in the European Union (COREPER) has approved the draft legislative act on including Ukraine in the list of the third countries whose nationals should not be in possession of visas when crossing the borders of the EU Member States, Joinfo.com reports with reference to Ukrinform.
April 6, the European Parliament voted for the legislative resolution, allowing visa-free short-term travels to the EU countries for the Ukrainian citizens.
Pursuant to the procedure, the decision on granting Ukraine visa-free regime should be approved by the Council of the European Union with the subsequent signing by the presidents of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. The decision will come into force on the 20th day after publication.
Once the visa waiver for Ukrainians enters into force, and provided citizens of Ukraine have biometric passports, they will be able to enter the EU for up to 90 days in any 180-day-period for business, tourist or family purposes. The visa waiver will apply to all EU member states except Ireland and the United Kingdom. It does not confer a right to work in the EU.
Ukraine may halt water supplies to occupied Donbas over debts – energy minister
Water supplies to the territories of Donbas beyond the Ukrainian government control may be terminated, Ukraine’s Energy and Coal Industry Minister Ihor Nasalyk told journalists following a Cabinet meeting Wednesday, Joinfo.com reports with reference to UNIAN.
This move may be taken due to the fact that these territories are in arrears in payments to the Ukrainian water utility services, as well as due to the halt of anthracite coal supplies to the stations providing water utility services to the regions. “The issue regarding water is urgent now, as water utility service receives no payments. One of the questions to be raised in Minsk today, among other things, is that we cannot supply coal of anthracite group to Luhanska [TPP], because have no delivery routes other than those from uncontrolled territories or from Russia. And after that, we must shut down the water utility company,” the minister said.
It should be recalled that Ukraine shut down all power supplies to the occupied area of Luhansk region on April 25. Earlier, the Cabinet adopted resolution No. 263, which obliged the regional energy company Luhansk Energy Association to supply electricity to the temporarily occupied territory of Luhansk region regardless of the level of payment. At the same time, the company repeatedly reported to the Energy and Coal Industry Ministry and other state agencies that large debts had accumulated on the part of consumers from the ATO zone.
In December 2016, due to debts, the company temporarily halted power supplies to KP Popasnyanskiy Vodokanal, which supplied water to the occupied areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, temporarily uncontrolled by the Ukrainian authorities. As of December 2, the debt of the enterprise to Luhansk Energy Association was estimated at about UAH 124 million. On April 20, CEO of Luhansk Energy Association Volodymyr Gritsai claimed that the power supplies to the temporarily occupied territories of Luhansk region would be completely halted starting April 25.