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EBRD to grant Ukraine $460 mln to secure Chernobyl NPP

KIEV, August 7 (RIA Novosti) - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development will grant Ukraine 330 million euros (about $460 mln) to secure the Chernobyl nuclear power plant to prevent radioactive leaks, the emergencies ministry said.

Under an agreement the bank signed with the ministry and the state company overseeing the plant on Tuesday, the funds will be allocated to build a giant protective shield over the fourth reactor, damaged in the powerful 1986 explosions, and construct facilities to tackle nuclear waste by 2014-2015.

The Assembly of Chernobyl Shelter Fund Donors decided in London on July 17 to give its approval to the contract to build the shelter with France's Novarka, expected to be signed between September 17 and 24. During that time, Ukraine is to sign contracts with U.S.-based Holtec to build radioactive waste storages in the first, second and third power units and complete a solid radioactive waste recycling plant.

The decision came after numerous delays since the fund - contributed to by 28 countries, including the G8 nations, and run by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development - pledged in 2005 to allocate about $200 million for a new vault to contain radioactive material inside the plant.

A huge steel vault, which will be made away from the reactor site and will then be slid into place on rails, will seal the plant for 100 years, and further measures are expected to reduce the radiation threat or remove radioactive material from the plant.

Much of the radioactive material inside the plant is temporarily contained by a Russian-designed "sarcophagus."

The devastating disaster in then Soviet Ukraine killed and affected nine million people, according to UN estimates.

Vast areas, mainly in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, were contaminated by the fallout of the explosion. An 18-mile zone, from which about 135,000 people were evacuated after the disaster, remains largely deserted to this day.

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