Office of the Press Secretary
President Kuchma's announcement today that Ukraine will close the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant by December 15, 2000 represents a major milestone for Ukraine, as well as the United States and other G-7 nations, which have led the international effort to close the plant. Ukraine's actions will improve nuclear safety for the people of this important nation and will give a greater sense of security for all neighboring nations, which have lived too long in the shadow of the world's worst civilian nuclear accident.
In response to today's closure announcement, President Clinton today pledged additional assistance of $78 million from the United States for the Chornobyl sarcophagus project, which will reconstruct and stabilize the structure that covers the ruined Reactor Four at the Chornobyl plant.
In addition, the U.S. will fund a business incubator for the neighboring town of Slavutych in recognition of the economic impact that closure of the nuclear facility will have on the local population. The U.S. Department of Labor, in cooperation with the Ukrainian Ministry of Labor, has also committed to a project to address the needs of workers displaced by Chornobyl's closure. Moreover, the Department of Energy will be providing an additional $2 million in nuclear safety assistance, part of which will be used to help with the safe shutdown of Chornobyl.
The U.S. will work with Ukraine and the G-7 to obtain the remaining funds needed to complete the sarcophagus project at the second Chornobyl sarcophagus pledging conference, to be held on July 6, in Berlin.
In 1995, the United States, the other G-7 countries and Ukraine signed a Memorandum of Understanding on closure of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant. Since 1995, the G-7 and Ukraine have worked together to mobilize nearly $2 billion in international financial institutions energy sector loans to help Ukraine develop a more reliable and stable energy sector. The G-7 have provided nearly $1 billion in grant funds for Chornobyl site safety projects, for decommissioning facilities, and to repair the Chornobyl sarcophagus.
To date, the U.S. has provided over $200 million in assistance for nuclear safety in Ukraine. Approximately $100 million has been dedicated to safety improvements to Chornobyl and other nuclear power plants as well as regulatory assistance, $22 million for construction of a plant to provide heat for Chornobyl decommissioning activities, and a previous $78 million for the sarcophagus project.
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