Goodbye Chernobyl

29 December 2001

Ordering the final closure of Chernobyl on 15 December, 2000, Ukraine’s president, Leonid Kuchma, warned that there was still much to be done. “This menacing page of the book of modern history cannot be considered closed,” he said. Ukraine was “forsaking a part of our national interests for the sake of global safety.” The previous day, Ukraine’s parliament had adopted a non-binding resolution that urged the government to postpone the shutdown until April. Kuchma dismissed this as constituting political games. Amid messages of goodwill from world leaders, he stressed the necessity of closing Chernobyl in the interests of the Ukrainian people and the international community. He called on the G7 countries and the world community to further assist Ukraine in completing the shutdown process and clean up.

Unit 3, which had been undergoing an unplanned outage since 6 December, was restarted on 14 December – just in time to be officially closed.

The unit had been automatically disconnected from the grid as a precautionary measure following a steam leak in an unmanned room.

The director general of the IAEA, Mohamed El Baradei, said that the IAEA would assist in developing an integrated approach to planning, management and implementation of the decommissioning of Chernobyl units 1-3, as well as in the management of radioactive waste at the plant.

Russia has offered support by providing jobs for specialists from Chernobyl if it has vacancies. The Ukrainian government is also planning to create additional jobs in the plant operators’ town of Slavutich. Russia is also prepared to increase electricity supplies to Ukraine.

Russia did not support the closure of Chernobyl, arguing that the money could have been better spent on upgrading the station.



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