Germany steps back on nuclear aid to Ukraine

Publish date: June 24, 1999

Written by: Igor Kudrik

The G7 summit failed to live up to the Ukrainian nuclear dreams.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder seems to have given up the idea to earmark $435 million for Ukraine to complete two Chernobyl substitutes after being under heavy fire from the German Green party. Prior to the meeting of the Group of Seven (G7) leading industrial democracies in Cologne last week, the German government failed to endorse this financial commitment. The G7 took the question off the summit agenda.

Meanwhile Leonid Kuchma, President of Ukraine, was "unequivocally linking the closure of Chernobyl to the beginning of operation of the compensatory reactors" presidential spokesman, Oleksandr Martynenko, told AP. He also said the Ukrainian President was expecting the final decision on funding to be ironed out at Cologne summit.

News agencies report that Gerhard Schroeder will discuss this issue on July 7-8 when he visits Ukraine. However the talks will not focus on building new reactors. Instead, the Chancellor will put forward a proposal of replacing the uncompleted nuclear reactors with alternative energy sources. Gas power plants are named among the possible alternative sources. The preliminary reaction of the official Ukraine for such proposal was negative. The Ukrainian officials said the country would stretch its meagre resources and finish the construction of substitute reactors, if the Western aid was not coming.

Work on the two new reactors in question, at Rovno and Khmelnitsky, would cost an estimated $1.2 billion. Khmelnitsky NPP already has one VVER-1000 reactor in operation. Three new VVER-1000’s are said to be under construction. Rovno NPP has had two VVER-440’s operating since the early 1980’s and one VVER-1000 reactor unit began operations in 1986. A fourth VVER-1000 is under construction.

Reactor no. 3 is Chernobyl’s last in operation. Number 4 exploded on April 26, 1986. Number 2 were shut down in 1991. Five years later, no. 1 was put out of operation.