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Chernobyl set to close last reactor

LAST OF the four reactors at the Ukrainian nuclear power station Chernobyl is to be shut down on Friday.

Three reactors have remained in operation since Chernobyl's No 4 reactor went critical, spewing a plume of radiation into the atmosphere in 1986. Reactors No 1 and 2 were closed last year.

A multi billion pound decommissioning scheme is now being drawn up, provisionally valued at £500M a year.

Work is continuing on the £506M project to stabilise and close the sarcophagus containing the No 4 reactor. The reactor was badly damaged in the 1986 explosion and there are fears that without major civils work it will collapse, throwing up a cloud of toxic dust.

Funding made available by the G7 nations for both projects is being administered by the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development.

The EBRD is also to manage work to complete Ukraine's Khmelnitsky 2 and Rivne 4 reactors, put on hold mid-way through construction after the Chernobyl meltdown.

The upgrading and safety work to be carried out on both new reactors has a combined value of £150M. Permission to start is conditional on approval by international nuclear regulators. The Ukraine is expected to be lent technical assistance by British engineers.

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