In what could be a $150 million contract, Chornobyl’s Exclusion Zone Agency is launching a tender for construction of a facility to store vitrified high level nuclear waste for 100 years

. In the aftermath of the 1986 nuclear disaster, a French consortium, Novarka, built the €1.5 billion New Safe Confinement. An American company, Holtec International, built the first stage of what is to be a $1.3 billion dry storage facility for spent nuclear fuel. The new facility is to store 260 cubic meters of reprocessed fuel returned from Russia. The tender closes Sept. 13, the ProZorro auction is to be Oct. 19, and construction is to be completed by Dec. 2023.

So far this year, 32,000 tourists have visited Chornobyl, close to the 36,000 for all of last year,

Kyrylo Harnyk, an official with the Exclusion Zone Management agency, told a Chornobyl tourism roundtable yesterday. Two weeks ago, Ukrzaliznytsia sent the first test train down the Vilcha – Yaniv track. This rail section was restored to connect the nuclear waste storage site with Ukraine’s national rail network. With trains running again for the first time in 35 years, opportunities open up for rail tours of the exclusion zone.

On the 35th anniversary of the Chornobyl nuclear fire, President Zelenskiy yesterday inaugurated a €448 million nuclear waste repository.

Located near the shuttered nuclear power plant, the unit is “the largest dry spent fuel storage facility in the world” according to the EBRD which coordinated donation from OECD countries. Designed to last 100 years, the facility is to package in double-walled canisters and store in concrete the 21,000 spent fuel assemblies of Chornobyl reactors 1, 2 and 3.

With next Monday marking the 35th anniversary of the Chornobyl fire,

Ukravtodor has repaved the 40 km road between Dyliatky checkpoint, the main entrance to the Exclusion Zone, and Pripyat town. “Our task is to put in order the popular tourist routes in three years and provide normal access to the Zone for conservationists, scientists, power engineers and entrepreneurs,” Alexander Kubrakov, Head of the State Highway Agency wrote on a Facebook post. He said that volume of tourists increased 15-fold in five years, from 8,000 in 2015 to 124,000 in 2019.