Chernobyl 3 was closed as planned on 15 December for preventive maintenance. Sergei Sharshun, shift superintendent, said there would be a routine check of safety systems; welded joints would be inspected and any defects repaired in the emergency reactor cooling system. The unit would be closed for two months.

The unit was originally scheduled for the outage on 1 December to repair and upgrade safety equipment, using $118 million from the EBRD. However, shutdown was postponed in the face of severe energy shortages, pending restart of a unit at the Zaporozhye plant.

The utility, Energoatom, wanted the unit to remain online into 1999 because of grid supply problems, but the regulator insisted on the planned outage taking place in early December.