Ukraine is currently working on an expanded governmental program aimed at sprucing up the contaminated territories adjacent to the crippled Chernobyl nuclear power plant, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said on Monday.
According to experts, the radiation level in Chernobyl’s exclusion zone has significantly decreased in recent years, Azarov said, adding that outside the exclusion zone there are no inhabited areas in Kiev Region with elevated radiation levels.
“There are good reasons to revitalize, ‘give a second breath’ to these abandoned homes, cities and residential areas. These are additional work places and additional revenue for our budget,” Azarov said.
In late March, Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych said the country would begin the construction of a new sarcophagus at the Chernobyl nuclear plant on April 26, the 26th anniversary of the nuclear disaster.
The Chernobyl sarcophagus will cost 935 million euro ($1.2 billion) to build. Most of the money was raised through a donation drive among the world’s governments held last year, with Ukraine only contributing 6 percent of the total.
Construction of the confinement chamber, a metal facility 105 meters tall and 260 meters long that will cover the reactor, is to be finished by 2015, Ukrainian officials said earlier.
The destroyed reactor was covered by a concrete confinement chamber months after the disaster in 1986 but the facility has since decayed and now threatens to leak radiation.