MOSCOW, April 23 (RIA Novosti) – The crippled Chernobyl nuclear power plant remains an extremely dangerous site which has not been fully decommissioned yet, the head of the Chernobyl Union of Ukraine told RIA Novosti Wednesday.
“In 2000, as a result of a political decision influenced by the West, the Chernobyl plant was shut down. Although nuclear fuel at the plant was not produced there was still some fresh fuel,” Yuri Andreev said during a video conference between Moscow and Kiev organized by RIA Novosti.
“The plant was not renovated. As a result we’ve got an extremely dangerous site. On the one hand we could not keep up the exploitation of the plant; on the other hand we cannot now ensure its safe decommission,” said Andreev, who served as the chief engineer at the plant at the time of the explosion.
The Chernobyl disaster occurred on April 26, 1986, when one of its four nuclear reactors exploded. The catastrophe affected the lives of millions of people. Vast areas estimated at 50 thousand square kilometers, mainly in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, were contaminated by the fallout from the critical nuclear meltdown. Some 200,000 people were relocated after the accident.
The last reactor at Chernobyl was permanently shut down by a Ukrainian government decree in 2000.
Andreev stressed that the damaged plant posed no threat to the environment due to the 30 km exclusion zone surrounding the site, while adding that no technical project on the plant’s decommission has yet been developed.
On Tuesday, it was announced that the construction of a contamination shield at the damaged plant had been suspended amid growing tensions in Ukraine.
Workers built a temporary shield over the damaged reactor soon after the disaster, called a sarcophagus. In 2010, work on the new shied started. The primary aim of the project, estimated to cost nearly €1.5 billion, is to prevent further leakage at the crippled reactor.