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Russian contracts beckon British

CRUMBLING CIVIL and military nuclear infrastructure in the former Soviet Union will be tackled with a new £84M fund that promises opportunities for UK consultants and contractors.

The 'inter-departmental' kitty, made available by the Chancellor for urgently needed nuclear decommissioning, storage and maintenance projects in former eastern bloc countries, is to be administered by the Department for Trade & Industry.

A Treasury source said that £24M is earmarked for 2001-2, with spending increasing to £27M in 2002-3 and £33M in 2003-4.

Particular attention will be given to Chernobyl's number 4 reactor which infamously went critical in 1986. UK firms, including contractor BNFL and consultant Mouchel, are already involved in the £760M project to strengthen and enclose the sarcophagus (NCE 4 May).

The European Bank for Reconstruction & Development is overseeing project finance for the Shelter Implementation Plan. It expects to put detailed design out to tender next year.

The entire project is scheduled for completion in 2005-6.

The new cash will also go towards making safe ageing nuclear reactors in Russia, the Ukraine and Belarus, plus Russia's fleet of nuclear submarines.

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