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News Article | May 16, 2017
Site: www.forbes.com

Ukraine is making good on its debts with the European Union. This time its Naftogaz, arguably the country's most important company, paying off a $300 million loan it had with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) on Tuesday. Naftogaz used the funds between July and September, but the EBRD loan option remains open until next year. And Naftogaz said that it plans to keep using it, particularly for the cold weather months. “The EBRD loan facility is not only an affordable resource to buy gas for the heating season but also an important factor of Naftogaz reform," CEO Andriy Kobolyev said. EBRD is monitoring the implementation of new standards in reporting, transparency, environmental and social responsibility in Naftogaz as part of its loan terms. Ukraine used the last loan to buy 1.8 billion cubic meters of gas, most of it not Russian. All of the money found its way back into Europe, with Naftogaz contracting Swiss based Axpo Trading Czech state owned energy company CEZ; Engie of France; Eni Trading & Shipping from Italy; and German firms RWE Supply & Trading GmbH and Uniper Global Commodities all winning bids to supply and deliver gas to Naftogaz under the EBRD loan. Russia used to be the largest supplier of natural gas to Ukraine. But over the last couple of years, Ukraine has diversified away from its core supplier, Gazprom, over pricing disputes that have required international arbitration. Russia and Ukraine are currently going through a bitter divorce. Since the ousting of president Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine has tried to follow in the footsteps of Poland by leaning towards Europe rather than its old partner. In retaliation, Russia took over the Crimean peninsula, which military observers say was a move by Vladimir Putin to secure its only warm water port should Ukraine join NATO. Later, ethnic Russians and Chechens, often backed by Russia's government, sought to isolate themselves from Kiev in eastern provinces known to be industrial hubs. The crisis has caused economic calamity in Ukraine and led to sanctions against Russia by the U.S. and Europe. For its part, Russia is also diversifying away from Ukraine as its main transit route into Europe. Gazprom is building a pipeline into Europe via Turkey with BOTAS Petroleum, and is still looking to build the Nord Stream II pipeline through the Baltics with major European partners like Shell Oil.


News Article | May 23, 2017
Site: www.foodprocessing-technology.com

The Serbian Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection has revealed a new quality label for the country’s meat producers. The government has invited local meat producers to apply for the new ‘Serbian Quality – SrpskiKvalitet’ label, which is already being used for eight products manufactured in the country. Serbia has collaborated with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to promote and encourage its meat producers to adopt new industry quality standards The officials created the label by coordinating with meat processing companies through a project that received funding from Luxembourg. "The national label will assure consumers that what they are buying is made with products from the Republic of Serbia and is of superior quality." Serbia's Minister of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Branislav Nedimovic said: “This is an important development for our country’s food industry as a whole, as the national label will assure consumers that what they are buying is made with products from the Republic of Serbia and is of superior quality. “It will create a premium for quality meat products and help producers tap into new markets.” For obtaining this stamp, meat processors are required to use Serbian raw materials. For each product category, the label will require up to three specific properties that differentiate SrpskiKvalitet products from other goods in the market. The new quality label is expected to raise recognition of Serbian meat products in both domestic and international markets. Image: Serbian Minister of Agriculture Branislav Nedimovic said that the new Serbian quality label will help meat producers open new markets. Photo: courtesy of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.


News Article | May 4, 2017
Site: www.fao.org

Ukraine’s commercial dairy industry is beginning to recover from a sharp decline in recent years, producing higher quality milk and tapping into new foreign markets. This recovery has come despite ongoing political and economic turbulence in Ukraine and global milk prices dropping to an all-time low. Progress is due in no small part thanks to FAO and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (ERBD), which both supported the establishment of the Ukrainian Dairy Sector Working Group (WG) in 2013. The dairy sector WG is a collaboration of leading milk producers and processors, key industry associations, scientists, analysts and government representatives. The group aims to develop transparent dairy policy mechanisms and commonly accepted milk market indicators, while strengthening capacity and providing solid market analysis and legal advice through effective dialogue between the public and private sectors. As a result of FAO’s knowledge and facilitation support, the WG is significantly contributing to making Ukraine’s commercial dairy industry more modern, productive and sustainable than ever. The milk and dairy sector in Ukraine is showing signs of recovery after a period of stagnation in which producers in the net-exporting country struggled to deliver high-quality raw materials. With support from FAO, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Ukrainian Dairy Sector Working Group (WG), the sector is now starting to show signs of greater efficiency, productivity and inclusivity. The WG has been instrumental in introducing changes to Ukrainian government legislation – including new quality and safety standards – and in developing the investment case for industrialization. Regular discussions about dairy sector news, key legislative initiatives, standards and market trends between the Government and the private sector have become an important tool for facilitating transparent policy-making. “Active dialogue between agribusiness companies and the Ukrainian government is a key factor in contributing to sector development. It has created a more transparent policy environment conducive to investment and it is helping to diversify export markets for dairy products,” says Victoria Zinchuk, Head of Agribusiness Advisory at the EBRD. Transferring knowledge Keeping dairy producers and industry experts abreast of the latest news and technical know-how plays a crucial role in the transformation of the dairy sector. With this in mind, in 2014 FAO and the EBRD organized a study tour for members of the WG that took in some key milk-producing regions in the United States. While visiting farms, dairy cooperatives, a dairy processing plant and research and extension centres, the group gained valuable insights into new technology and production methods as well as modern dairy business practices. “Farms in Wisconsin account for 14 percent of all milk produced in the United States and we learned about the whole dairy value chain of this State – from scientific research, applied research and extension services, to commercial production, processing and cooperatives,” said Denys Serhiyenko, Director of Dairy Farm “Ponory” Ltd. “I have participated in many dairy study tours in my life but this was the best of all. I learned a lot about technologies for calf feeding, animal breeding, growing alfalfa and feed production. Technological approaches used in this US cheese factory led us to rethink our cheese-making process, a change we are now implementing in our factory,” added Anatoliy Volkov, Director of “Plemzavod Stepnoy” Farm. High-level events, such as the 2016 Eastern European Dairy Congress in Kiev –  which attracted more than 2 000 dairy farmers and industry players from various countries – have promoted not only the exchange of ideas but also of technology and market knowledge. This has led to several benefits, including helping farmers to upgrade facilities and improve the quality and quantity of milk produced. Breaking new ground Welcoming Ukraine’s efforts to expand trade, China and the European Union opened up their markets to several Ukrainian dairy companies in 2015. And recent trade missions to countries in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia have also helped in the search for new market opportunities for Ukrainian dairy products. Of those products, cheese remains particularly important, but Ukraine has also increased its exports of skimmed milk powder, butter, ultra-high-temperature processing (UHT) milk, cream and fermented milk products, thus creating new possibilities for dairy producers. However, FAO economist Andriy Yarmak believes that while most farmers make an annual investment in production expansion, they would be much better served by investments in processing technologies. “To produce one litre of milk is ten times more expensive than processing the same quantity of milk.  Instead of spending money investing in the production of milk, farmers could use the same funds to create a processing plant aimed at producing high quality dairy products for both domestic and export markets,” he says. Yarmak evidences this with a real example of a Ukrainian dairy company that, after deciding to invest in an entirely new production line, has gone on to develop a product exclusively for the Chinese market. Strength in numbers Recognizing the benefits of strength in numbers, the Association of Milk Producers in Ukraine, one of the most active WG members, is now developing a cooperative of milk producers to add value through processing. Around 20 larger-scale farmers are currently working on a business plan, while five have already joined forces, selling their milk collectively and earning around 10 percent more. “It’s amazing what can be done if you really have the energy to push it,” says Andriy Dykun, President of the Association of Milk Producers in Ukraine. And it is this spirit of working together, of giving all players a say in important policy decisions, that demonstrates WG’s progress in transforming Ukraine’s dairy sector for the better.


Receive press releases from ClearViewIP Ltd.: By Email European Investment Bank Selects ClearViewIP to Lead Support Programme on Intangible Assets and IP in the Western Balkans UK IP strategy consultancy, ClearViewIP has been selected by the European Investment Bank to help lead support programme on intangible assets and Intellectual property in the western Balkans region. London, United Kingdom, March 01, 2017 --( Ultimately, the assignment will promote IP-driven business transactions and partnerships and support innovators’ ability to raise finance, be it through IP transfer, IP-based business partnerships, or by demonstrating to potential investors the economic and financial value of their intangible assets. ClearViewIP was specifically chosen based on its breadth of global IP commercialization experience and track record of helping companies of all sizes reach the full monetisation potential for their innovations. The assignment is expected to bring together representatives from financial intermediaries, IP professionals, universities, business support networks and businesses (particularly SMEs) in the Western Balkans. "ClearViewIP is excited for the opportunity to work with the EIB and is looking forward to meeting and developing relationships with innovative SMEs and key stakeholders in the Western Balkan IP ecosystem to unlock the region’s IP potential," commented ClearViewIP Director, Benoit Geurts. About the Western Balkans Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility (WB EDIF) The Western Balkans Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility (WB EDIF) was launched in December 2012 at the initiative of the EIB Group, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and with the support of the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF) as a new complementary measure for improving access to finance for SMEs and supporting economic development in the region. This platform was created with the aim of promoting the emergence and growth of innovative and high-potential SMEs as well as the creation of a regional venture capital market. The Facility is coordinated by the European Investment Fund (the EIB’s arm specialised in supporting Europe’s SMEs) and implemented in close cooperation between the governments of the Western Balkans, the European Commission, the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. IFIs, international organisations, and bilateral donors active in the region, such as the World Bank, DEG, OECD, and others are participating in order to streamline the efforts to develop the private sector in the Western Balkans. London, United Kingdom, March 01, 2017 --( PR.com )-- ClearViewIP, a leading IP Strategy Consultancy, and Patent Brokerage Firm, based in Winchester, UK is pleased to announce they have started an ambitious project commissioned by the European Investment Bank (EIB) as part of the Western Balkans Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility (WB EDIF). ClearViewIP will support the design and implementation of a toolkit aimed at releasing investment opportunities and unlocking commercial and funding potential in intangible and intellectual property (IP) assets in 6 countries of the Western Balkans region: Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia.Ultimately, the assignment will promote IP-driven business transactions and partnerships and support innovators’ ability to raise finance, be it through IP transfer, IP-based business partnerships, or by demonstrating to potential investors the economic and financial value of their intangible assets. ClearViewIP was specifically chosen based on its breadth of global IP commercialization experience and track record of helping companies of all sizes reach the full monetisation potential for their innovations.The assignment is expected to bring together representatives from financial intermediaries, IP professionals, universities, business support networks and businesses (particularly SMEs) in the Western Balkans."ClearViewIP is excited for the opportunity to work with the EIB and is looking forward to meeting and developing relationships with innovative SMEs and key stakeholders in the Western Balkan IP ecosystem to unlock the region’s IP potential," commented ClearViewIP Director, Benoit Geurts.About the Western Balkans Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility (WB EDIF)The Western Balkans Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility (WB EDIF) was launched in December 2012 at the initiative of the EIB Group, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and with the support of the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF) as a new complementary measure for improving access to finance for SMEs and supporting economic development in the region.This platform was created with the aim of promoting the emergence and growth of innovative and high-potential SMEs as well as the creation of a regional venture capital market. The Facility is coordinated by the European Investment Fund (the EIB’s arm specialised in supporting Europe’s SMEs) and implemented in close cooperation between the governments of the Western Balkans, the European Commission, the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. IFIs, international organisations, and bilateral donors active in the region, such as the World Bank, DEG, OECD, and others are participating in order to streamline the efforts to develop the private sector in the Western Balkans. Click here to view the list of recent Press Releases from ClearViewIP Ltd.


News Article | August 28, 2016
Site: cleantechnica.com

Renewable energy projects across the world received funding worth $6 billion in 2015 from multilateral banks, a recent report has revealed. The World Bank, The European Investment Bank (EIB), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) provided a total of $25 billion in climate finance across the world. Around 20% of this investment (i.e., $5 billion) went into adaptation projects, while the remaining 80% was invested into mitigation projects. The World Bank Group — which includes International Finance Corporation, World Bank, and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency — led with a total investment of $10.7 billion, followed by the European Investment Bank with $5.1 billion of investment. The renewable energy sector was the largest beneficiary of the mitigation investment made by these six banks. The sector received a total of $6 billion. The transportation sector received $5.3 billion, followed by energy efficiency at $2.8 billion. Within the mitigation investment, non-EU Europe and Central Asia received 24% (or $4.7 billion) of the total $20 billion, while East Asia and Pacific, EU11, and South Asia received around $3 billion each. The Middle East and North Africa combined with sub-Saharan Africa received a total investment of almost $3 billion. With solar power tariffs becoming increasingly competitive across the world – be it the Middle East, India, or Latin America – project developers are expected to look for more funding from multilateral banks which provide debt funding at very low cost.   Drive an electric car? Complete one of our short surveys for our next electric car report.   Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.  


Brown M.,University of St. Gallen | De Haas R.,European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)
Economic Policy | Year: 2012

Based on survey data from 193 banks in 20 countries we provide the first bank-level analysis of the relationship between bank ownership, bank funding and foreign currency (FX) lending across emerging Europe. Our results contradict the widespread view that foreign banks have been driving FX lending to retail clients as a result of easier access to foreign wholesale funding. Our cross-sectional analysis shows that foreign banks do lend more in FX to corporate clients but not to households. Moreover, we find no evidence that wholesale funding had a strong causal effect on FX lending for either foreign or domestic banks. Panel estimations show that the foreign acquisition of a domestic bank does lead to faster growth in FX lending to households. However, this is driven by faster growth in household lending in general not by a shift towards FX lending. © CEPR, CES, MSH, 2012.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: AHRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 410.94K | Year: 2012

This proposal seeks to build on the achievements of the Centre for East European Language-Based Area Studies (CEELBAS) in building UK capacity to understand and respond to developments in the strategically-important region of Central and Eastern Europe and Russia. The three development pathways outlined here are designed to enhance impact, particularly through interaction and engagement with non-academic communities, with a specific focus on the Humanities and Language elements of CEELBAS research and training (although the Centre will promote interdisciplinarity and will explore other funding sources to continue specifically social science-based activities). Phase 2 of CEELBAS offers a significant opportunity to underline and showcase the vital contributions made by Humanities and Language expertise in addressing major research and policy challenges in areas such as the changing global order, migration and mobility, security and stability, health and wellbeing, and inter-cultural relations. A major goal in the new phase of the project will be to clarify and promote the conceptual and practical (economic, political, social) impacts beyond academe that have been and will be generated by research in the fields of History and Culture. Drawing on networks and partnerships established since 2006, and developing new ones, the first pathway aims to create sustainable knowledge exchange relationships with public, private and third-sector organisations through both collaborative events and, where feasible, internships and placements. Efforts will be made to demonstrate the mutual benefits of interaction and exchange between researchers and external partners. In order to achieve enhanced impacts, the project will disseminate the knowledge produced by leading edge research beyond academic institutions and environments, whilst giving researchers increased access to the knowledge, perspectives and feedback of user organisations. The second pathway centres on international research networks and exchanges, through which the numerous international contacts and partnerships at CEELBAS universities will be developed to enable UK and international researchers to collaborate and share expertise, including in areas of knowledge exchange and user engagement. This aims to raise the international profile and connectedness of UK research, helping to create a vibrant research environment in which different insights and approaches are shared and applied across borders. The third pathway aims to build capacity in research and language skills training networks for postgraduates. This includes training for knowledge exchange, public and media engagement, and interaction with non-academic audiences. Building on successful CEELBAS training initiatives developed since 2006, this pathway seeks to put in place the resources and infrastructure to deliver sustainable, cost-effective and innovative provision in advanced language and research skills. The pathway activities aim to develop a template for best practice that will be applicable beyond the East European area studies research community (and its users), particularly, for example, in supporting future LBAS development for other regions, such as South Asia and Latin America. More broadly, CEELBAS aims to show innovation and leadership in promoting research excellence and knowledge exchange, and in providing training and career opportunities for postgraduate and early-career researchers. This will help to ensure that Humanities and language-based expertise at UK universities continues to play a central role in addressing issues of strategic national importance and in advancing international cooperation and intercultural communication and exchange.


News Article | March 2, 2017
Site: globenewswire.com

Proposals to the Annual General Meeting of Municipality Finance Plc The Board of Directors and the Shareholders' Nomination Committee have made the following proposals to the Annual General Meeting (hereinafter "AGM") convening on 23 March 2017 at 14:00 (EET): Use of profit shown on the balance sheet Municipality Finance Plc (hereinafter "MuniFin") has distributable funds of EUR 61,496,269.28, of which the profit for the financial year totaled EUR 6,807,909.79. The Board proposes to the AGM that no dividend be paid out, and that the distributable funds of EUR 61,496,269.28 be retained in equity. The Board of Directors considers this to be a well-reasoned decision, as the company needs to continue preparing for tightening own funds requirements by increasing its Tier 1 capital through profit and loss. Remuneration and composition of the Board of Directors The Shareholders' Nomination Committee proposes to the AGM the following remuneration of the Board of Directors for the term from the closing of the 2017 AGM, to the closing of the next AGM (hereinafter the "term 2017-2018"): annual remuneration of a Board member EUR 15,000; annual remuneration of the Vice Chairman of the Board EUR 18,000; annual remuneration of the Chairman of the Board EUR 30,000; to the members, a fee of EUR 500 per Board and committee meeting attended; and to the chairmen, EUR 800 per meeting attended. The Shareholders' Nomination Committee also proposes to the AGM that such fees are also paid per each meeting required by the authorities. The remuneration corresponds with the remuneration paid for the previous term. The Shareholders' Nomination Committee proposes to the AGM that eight members will be elected to the Board of Directors for the term 2017-2018 and that the following current members will be re-elected: Mr. Fredrik Forssell, Mr. Tapani Hellstén, Mr. Teppo Koivisto, Ms. Vivi Marttila, Ms. Tuula Saxholm, and Ms. Helena Walldén. Further, the Shareholders' Nomination Committee proposes the election of Ms. Minna Helppi and Mr. Jari Koskinen as new members of the Board of Directors. Minna Helppi acts currently as Senior Vice President, Group Treasurer for Metso Corporation, and has previous experience from the financial sector from, inter alia, Nordea. Jari Koskinen is the Director General for the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, and has extensive experience of Finland's municipal sector and experience from the financial sector from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The Shareholders' Nomination Committee proposes to the Board of Directors to be elected by the AGM to appoint Helena Walldén as the Chairman and Tapani Hellstén as the Vice Chairman. Election and remuneration of the Auditor The Board of Directors proposes to the AGM to re-elect KPMG Oy Ab as the company's auditor for the term 2017-2018. KPMG Oy Ab has announced that in the event they are elected as the company's auditor, Mr. Marcus Tötterman, APA, will act as the principal auditor. Marcus Töttermann has acted as the principal auditor during the previous term as well. The Board of Directors proposes to the AGM that the auditor's fees will be paid against reasonable invoices. Amendment of the Articles of Association The Board of Directors proposes to the AGM the amendment of the Articles of Association by removing the limitation relating to the age of the elected Board member. The limitation in question does not correspond with the current market practice, and the Shareholders' Nomination Committee will take into account the sufficient rotation of the Board members when preparing their annual proposal for the composition of the Board of Directors. The invitation to the AGM, including relevant appendices, is available on MuniFin's website in Finnish. Measured by the group's balance sheet, Municipality Finance Plc (MuniFin) is Finland's second largest credit institution. The company is owned by Finnish municipalities, the public sector pension fund Keva and the Republic of Finland. MuniFin is an integral part of the Finnish public economy. MuniFin's balance sheet totals approximately EUR 34 billion. Funding for the company is primarily obtained through the international capital markets. MuniFin's funding is guaranteed by the Municipal Guarantee Board. MuniFin's mission is to ensure competitive funding for local government investments and state-subsidised social housing production in all market conditions. The company's customers are Finnish municipalities, municipal federations, municipally controlled companies and non-profit housing corporations. The customers use financing solutions provided by MuniFin to finance social and non-profit targets such as day care centres, schools, housing, hospitals and other municipal investments. The Municipality Finance Group also includes the subsidiary company, Financial Advisory Services Inspira Ltd.


News Article | November 29, 2016
Site: www.theguardian.com

Reactor No 4 at Chernobyl, the scene of the worst nuclear accident in history, has been enclosed by a vast steel shelter designed to prevent radiation leaks from the site. The structure covers the reactor and the unstable “sarcophagus”, which was hastily built around it by Soviet authorities in the immediate aftermath of the disaster 30 years ago. The shelter is said to be the largest land-based movable object ever constructed. It took several years to build and cost more than €1.5bn (£1.27bn). The huge steel arch was moved into place over several weeks, and the completion of this procedure was celebrated with a ceremony at the site on Tuesday, attended by the Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, diplomats and site workers. Poroshenko paid tribute to the Chernobyl workers who built the initial sarcophagus, despite dangerous radiation levels at the scene of the disaster. “It was designed to last for 30 years to protect Kiev, Ukraine and the whole world from nuclear contamination. Thirty years later, we are present here just 100 metres away from reactor No 4 and we can say that this new historical construction has been completed,” he said. The explosion at Chernobyl’s reactor No 4 occurred during the night shift on 26 April 1986, and news of the disaster was initially covered up by Soviet authorities. About 50 people were killed as a direct result of the accident, but medical estimates suggest up to 4,000 people will die prematurely due to radiation exposure. Thousands more still suffer health effects, and a 20-mile (32km) exclusion zone around the plant remains in place. Suma Chakrabarti, the president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which coordinated the construction project, said: “The old shelter has now disappeared from our sight, but we’re never going to forget the human toll of the 1986 accident and we owe our thoughts today to the victims of that accident.” Vince Novak, the EBRD’s director of nuclear safety, said the shelter eliminated a number of fears and risks that had persisted since the accident, including a collapse of the sarcophagus or a fresh nuclear reaction inside the structure, given the tonnes of uranium still present at the site. There was also a danger that radioactive liquids could seep out of the site and into the water supply, because the sarcophagus was not watertight, he said. “This is the first project of its kind, and I very much hope the last one too,” Novak said. The shelter is 162 metres (531ft) long and 108m high. The metal used in the construction weighs 3.5 times more than the Eiffel Tower. Construction was complicated by the high radiation levels near the reactor, meaning that in order for workers to be able to spend extended periods of time building the shelter, it had to be assembled several hundred metres away and then slid slowly into place. Prior to the process, tens of thousands of tonnes of radioactive soil were removed from the construction area and replaced with clean soil. Much of the machinery and engineering equipment used had to be designed and built from scratch, including special cladding and a huge crane system. Hans Blix, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency at the time of the accident, who visited Chernobyl shortly after the explosion at the reactor and has been involved in the shelter project, said: “Moving together the two halves of the huge arch of this gigantic shelter is like closing a wound, a nuclear wound that belongs to all of us.” Over the coming year, work will continue on the structure to make it airtight and dismantle parts of the sarcophagus inside, using remote-controlled cranes inside the structure. When it is completed in November 2017, the final structure should ensure that the site is airtight for 100 years. People are banned from living in the zone around Chernobyl and access is only granted by special permit, but a few residents have returned in defiance of the ban. There are plans to develop solar power facilities in the area and Ukrainian authorities want to rebrand the exclusion zone as a destination for tourists, who can visit the city on a day trip from the capital, Kiev, and take an excursion around Pripyat, the ghost city near Chernobyl. The nearly 50,000 residents of Pripyat, which was built to house Chernobyl workers, were evacuated the day after the disaster and never returned. Its eerie, deserted streets give a snapshot of the late Soviet period.


News Article | March 24, 2016
Site: www.reuters.com

A general view shows a containment shelter for the damaged fourth reactor (L) and the New Safe Confinement (NSC) structure (R) at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, Ukraine, March 23, 2016. Employees work in front of the sarcophagus covering the damaged fourth reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, Ukraine, March 23, 2016. A general view shows the construction of the New Safe Confinement (NSC) structure at the site of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, Ukraine, March 23, 2016. A general view shows a containment shelter for the damaged fourth reactor (R) and the New Safe Confinement (NSC) structure (L) at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, Ukraine, March 23, 2016. A containment shelter for the damaged fourth reactor (L) and the New Safe Confinement (NSC) structure (R) at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant are seen from Ukraine's abandoned town of Pripyat, Ukraine, March 23, 2016. A sarcophagus covering the damaged fourth reactor is seen at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, Ukraine, March 23, 2016. A general view shows the construction of the New Safe Confinement (NSC) structure at the site of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, Ukraine, March 23, 2016. A general view shows a containment shelter for the damaged fourth reactor (R) and the New Safe Confinement (NSC) structure (L) at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, Ukraine, March 23, 2016. On April 26, 1986, a botched test at the Soviet nuclear plant sent clouds of smouldering nuclear material across large swathes of Europe, forced over 50,000 people to evacuate and poisoned unknown numbers of workers involved in its clean-up. A concrete sarcophagus was hastily built over the site of the stricken reactor to contain the worst of the radiation, but a more permanent solution has been in the works since late 2010. Easily visible from kilometers away, the 30,000 tonne 'New Safe Confinement' arch will be pulled slowly over the site later this year to create a steel-clad casement to block radiation and allow the remains of the reactor to be dismantled safely. "We've already gone through a number of very risky stages ... We always have fears, we are people, but there is nothing technical left that is a challenge," said Vince Novak, the Nuclear Safety Director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The EBRD has managed the funding of the arch, which has cost around 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion) and involved donations from more than 40 governments. Even with the new structure, the surrounding zone, which at 2,600 square kilometers (1,000 square miles) is roughly the size of Luxembourg, will remain largely uninhabitable and closed to unsanctioned visitors. Nature has been quick to reclaim the area's abandoned infrastructure. Trees sprout from the rusted roofs of apartment blocks in the ghost town of Prypyat, built to house Chernobyl power plant workers. Stray shoes and family photos still fixed to bedroom walls show the speed with which families were evacuated. The upcoming 30th anniversary of the disaster has shone a new light on the long-term human impact of the worst nuclear meltdown in history. The official short-term death toll from the accident was 31 but many more people died of radiation-related illnesses such as cancer. The total death toll and long-term health effects remain a subject of intense debate. On Wednesday, Ukrainians who were involved in the cleanup of Chernobyl - the so-called "liquidators" - protested in central Kiev to demand the government acknowledge their sacrifice with improved social benefits. "Thirty years ago, when we were young, we were saving the whole earth from a nuclear explosion. And now no one needs us. Absolutely no one," said one of the protesters, former liquidator Lidia Kerentseva.

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