PROTECTIVE COVER OVER CHERNOBYL REACTOR
Efrem Lukatsky  /  AP file
The Chernobyl nuclear reactor that exploded in 1986 is seen here covered by a protective cement shield, which has been leaking and needs to be repaired.
updated 2/8/2005 10:16:55 AM ET 2005-02-08T15:16:55

Officials at the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident say they're going to sell scrap and other equipment from the Chernobyl nuclear plant because the government isn't giving it enough money to continue operating.

Plant spokesman Viktor Kapusta said authorities hoped to raise the funds by selling things like pumps to maintain the ongoing operations such as monitoring radiation levels. He called the decision a “forced measure,” saying the federal government owes the plant $3.2 million.

About 30 workers are sorting out the equipment and estimating its value, Kapusta said. He said the equipment being sold was “clean, safe and environmentally friendly.”

He refused to say how much the plant operators were hoping to bring in.

“We shouldn’t be sitting around twiddling our thumbs,” he said. “We should try to make money ourselves.”

The legacy of ChernobylAn estimated 7 million people suffer radiation-related health problems from the disaster at the Chernobyl’s reactor No. 4, which exploded and burned in 1986. The radioactive fallout affected vast parts of Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and much of northern Europe.

The destroyed reactor was entombed in a hastily built concrete-and-steel shelter, which Ukrainian experts say is in need of urgent repairs. The last reactor at the plant was shut for good in 2000, but many call the plant a ticking atomic time bomb.

Ukrainian authorities have repeatedly warned that the previously estimated figure of $758 million was far from enough to build a new protective shelter for reactor No. 4 by the end of 2008. Officials have asked for an additional $350 million.

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