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21.03.2016

30 years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster

Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks pays tribute to the victims and visits the site of the destroyed reactor

Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks pays tribute to the victims and visits the site of the destroyed reactor

With the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster coming up on 26 April, Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks travelled to Ukraine today to commemorate the catastrophe. The focus of her two-day trip is a visit to the site of the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl. Ms Hendricks will lay a wreath at the memorial for the liquidators of the disaster, paying tribute to those who risked their own lives cleaning up the worst damage in the first days and months following the catastrophe. Minister Hendricks commented: "The dreadful shock of the accident 30 years ago opened our eyes to the risks associated with the use of nuclear energy. The people of Ukraine are still dealing with the disastrous consequences of the events today."

Minister Hendricks will also visit the town of Pripyat close to the destroyed reactor, where no-one has lived since the disaster. Almost 50,000 inhabitants were evacuated in 1200 buses on 27 April 1986 and were only allowed to take the bare essentials with them. They have never been able to return to their home town.

At the site of the power plant, the Minister will learn about progress made in the construction of the new shelter over block 4. This new safe confinement (NSC) is an impressive structure 257 meters wide, 162 meters long and 108 meters high. Being clearly visible even from a great distance, it is a grim reminder of the worst accident in the history of the civil use of nuclear energy.

"It is in the interest of all countries to assure their people that every conceivable measure is being taken to ensure the highest level of safety in all nuclear facilities. This is why it is necessary to deal with the consequences of the disaster in a responsible way", Minister Hendricks said.

Under the German G7 Presidency in 2015 an additional 615 million euros were pledged by the international community to ensure that construction of the NSC could continue. The G7 together with many other countries and institutions has by now made available a total of more than two billion euros to ensure the long-term safety of the site. The technology and supply building and the connecting walls between the old structure and the NSC are currently being built. It is planned to move the NSC into its final position over the damaged block 4 in November 2017. The new confinement must be in place before the sarcophagus built in 1986 as a provisional shelter can be dismantled.

Minister Hendricks stated: "Many countries worldwide are contributing financially to this huge and unique project. But it is also alarming that more than a quarter century had to go by until we achieved the success we can see today. It has been a depressingly long and hard road leading up to the impressive structure of the NSC."

21.03.2016 | Pressreport No. 063/16 | Nuclear Safety