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Ukrainian minister says Chernobyl plant fully funded despite crisis

Feb 11, 2009 (BBC Monitoring via COMTEX) -- [Presenter] There are no problems as far as funding for the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant is concerned, despite the economic crisis, and there is no threat to radiation security, Emergencies Minister Volodymyr Shandra told a briefing today.

Here are the details from 5 Kanal correspondent Natalya Zhyshko, who was present at the briefing. Natalya, good afternoon, what else did the minister say at his briefing" [Correspondent] First, the minister explained the reason for this kind of meeting with journalists. He said that there have been media reports lately about the plant being in a critical condition and that its employees are not paid and quit, and that this funding allegedly makes it impossible for them to guarantee the reliability of their work.

The minister denied this and said that there were no problems, no technical ones, that is, no emissions and no threat to radiation security, and also, despite the difficult financial situation in our country, that employees at the Chernobyl plant were paid their salaries on time. He said that they had been paid not long ago and as much as in December. So the minister asked us journalists to be more balanced and present different viewpoints, to ensure that the picture is more objective. Volodymyr Shandra also said there were no plans this year to decrease salaries or reduce staff at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.

The emergencies minister said that all works on the Shelter [a cover over the ruined reactor] were done according to schedule and that the donor states were fulfilling the obligations they had assumed and promised that this would continue. Let us listen to his direct speech. [Shandra] On 16 February, EBRD President [Thomas] Mirow is coming, and a grant agreement will be signed, that is, funds will be transferred, 135m euros, for the Shelter facility and into the nuclear safety account. To be more precise, 77m will be transferred into the nuclear safety account. [Correspondent] The Shelter project should be completed this summer.

The emergencies minister also spoke about the situation at other nuclear power plants. This year, the 30-year lifespan of their nuclear reactors will expire (it was established before that this was the expiry date), but Volodymyr Shandra said that, according to the [international nuclear agency] IAEA, the reactors were in a satisfactory condition and could be used for another 10 to 15 years. [Presenter] Natalya, thank you for the fresh information. 5 Kanal correspondent Natalya Zhyshko was on the line with us, reporting on the briefing by Emergencies Minister Volodymyr Shandra, who gave his assurances that the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant currently posed no radiation threat. Source: 5 Kanal TV, Kiev, in Ukrainian 0900 gmt 11 Feb 09 BBC Mon KVU 110209 ak BBC Monitoring.

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