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    UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT TO DISCUSS NEW CHERNOBYL CONTAINMENT BUILDING WITH HANS BLIX

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    KIEV, March 2 (RIA Novosti) - Today President Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine will hold talks with the former chief UN inspector, Hans Blix, on the construction of a new containment building for the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the site of a large-scale accident in April 1986. Dr. Blix is the head of the Assembly of Donors of the international fund that is funding the construction of the containment building.

    The old containment building was built over the fourth power-generating unit of the nuclear power plant immediately following the accident. Although the guaranteed service life of old containment building expires in two years, specialists are already concerned about it because there are cracks in the walls of the containment building and its roof has sunk. Fears about the condition of the protective installation are further increased because scientists do not know anything about the current processes inside the reactor or the condition of the remaining 200 metric tons of nuclear fuel.

    Experts have not ruled out that the collapse of the containment building could produce even more tragic environmental consequences than the accident itself 18 years ago.

    The new containment building, Ukrytiye-2 (Shelter-2), has already been designed and will be built near the fourth power-generating unit and then moved onto it. It must have a service life of 100 years. The cost of the work to ensure security of the damaged power-generating unit, including the construction of the new containment building, is $758 million. The construction will be financed by the Ukrytiye International Chernobyl Fund ($708 million) and the Ukrainian government ($50 million). The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development acts as the operator of the financing of the project.

    The work to stabilize the structures of the existing containment building will be completed by April 2006, and the construction of the new containment building's foundation will start immediately following that. The assembly of the new containment building will start in February 2008.

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