It's easy to look past and forget about what's right in front of you. When speaking of Chernobyl and the Nuclear Power Plant, most people tend to think of the disaster. This is of course not a strange thing, rather the opposite, but it still doesn't change the fact that there's the entire rest of the NPP, that maintained production even after the disaster in 1986, and of whose reactors the last one (reactor 3) was put out of operation as late as in 2000.
|Photo from http://chernobyl-international.com|
Questions concerning the future of the partly inactive, partly destroyed Nuclear Power Plant of Chernobyl is not something I often encounter - the knowledge of the New Safe Confinement over reactor 4 seem to distract enough to draw attention from the rest of the plant, but as I said, it's still there and in January 2010 the Verkhovna Rada Ukraiyni (Верховна Рада України; The Ukrainian Parliament) finally came to establish the law which decides the future of the ChNPP.
The plan is divided into four stages, beginning last year and ending in 2065, when the NPP is supposed to have been completely dismantled:
Between 2010 and 2013, the remaining spent nuclear fuel will be moved from all reactors and temporary storages to a long term storage. This has already begun; the spent nuclear fuel is currently stored in deep water cooling ponds, which is not suitable as a long term containment. Apart from this, the storage facilities at the site are insufficient when it comes to storing all the spent fuel from reactors 1, 2 and 3 and thus there are plans to construct another storage facility.
When the removal procedure is done, the next step is to preserve the reactor facilities, which is scheduled to happen between the years 2013 and 2022. This means the final closing of the reactor facilities and removal of all contaminated goods and equipment. The removal of uncontaminated equipment has already begun in block no. 1.
From 2022 until 2045, experts will be expected to reduce the radioactivity levels of the reactors and the final removal of equipment and clearing of the site is supposed to be completed till 2065. At all, this 55 years process is estimated to cost €314 million (3, 54 billion UAH), and financing this is likely to become a problem for Ukraine so it remains yet to be seen when the dismantling of the Chernobyl NPP can finally be completed.