EU parliamentarians launch project to protect Ukrainians affected by the Chernobyl accident

EU Ambassador Jan Tombinski at Ivankiv hospital
EU Ambassador Jan Tombinski at Ivankiv hospital

Since the Chernobyl accident, the EU has been working to cope with the aftermath by improving nuclear safety and dealing with the legacy of the disaster. On April 26, 2013, a new EU-funded health and ecological project worth €4 million was inaugurated in Ivankiv, a town neighbouring to the Chernobyl zone.

The EU will provide the Ivankiv hospital with new equipment to measure radioactive agents in human beings and their food and help control the health of mothers and children. The hospital will also serve as a counseling center to teach the population about healthy nutrition. “Implementation of the project will allow for early detection of diseases and for providing the necessary medical services to people who suffered from the Chernobyl disaster,” underlined Olexandr Leliak, head of the Ivankiv rayon state administration.

In addition, the initiative will build a greenhouse to grow safe food. Finally, it will work to prevent forest fires (which spread radioactivity) by burning contaminated wood in a special incinerator.

MEPs Ms. Michèle Rivasi and Ms. Corinne Lepage with the Head of EU Delegation, Ambassador Jan Tombinski, in Ivankiv, Kyiv region
MEPs Ms. Michèle Rivasi and Ms. Corinne Lepage with the Head of EU Delegation, Ambassador Jan Tombinski, in Ivankiv, Kyiv region

Speaking at the official opening of the project, MEP Michèle Rivasi, vice-president of the Greens/European Free Alliance Group, underlined the importance of helping the people affected by nuclear contamination. “After spending millions of euros to improve the safety of the nuclear power plant and the so-called ‘sarcophagus,’ the EU will at last help the victims of this permanent nuclear disaster thanks to an amendment tabled by the Greens and voted on by the European Parliament in 2008,” she said. The MEP stressed the need to maintain and distribute proper information on the devastating outcomes of the nuclear disasters in Chernobyl and Fukushima, also noting that the results of the Ivankiv project will have international importance.

MEP Corinne Lepage in Ivankiv hospital
MEP Corinne Lepage in Ivankiv hospital

MEP Corinne Lepage, a member of the Liberal Democrat Group, welcomed “a research programme that focuses on local people living in contaminated areas, and especially on children and pregnant women.” The project will help to understand the real consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe and its impact on the people, she added.

Mr. Jan Tombiński, head of the EU Delegation to Ukraine, noted that the project “adds a new human dimension to the over 20 years and €500 million the EU has committed to making the Chernobyl area safer”. “We are concerned not only with the essential issues of nuclear waste storage and safety, but also with the humans affected by them,” he adds. Tombiński also emphasised that the nuclear disaster had affected not only Ukrainians and their neighbours, but all of humanity.

Background:

MEPs Ms. Michèle Rivasi and Ms. Corinne Lepage with the Head of EU Delegation, Ambassador Jan Tombinski, in Ivankiv, Kyiv region
MEPs Ms. Michèle Rivasi and Ms. Corinne Lepage with the Head of EU Delegation, Ambassador Jan Tombinski, in Ivankiv, Kyiv region

The EU is the main donor and partner to Ukrainian efforts to reverse the negative impact of the Chernobyl accident, improve nuclear safety and deal with the legacy of the disaster. Between 1991 and 2006, the EU allocated €1.3 billion to nuclear safety and security projects, mostly in Russia and Ukraine. It has so far committed more than €500 million to Chernobyl and related projects. In addition to contributions to international funds (the Chernobyl Shelter Fund and the Nuclear Safety Account), the EU has also funded projects to study, assess and mitigate the consequences of the Chernobyl accident.

For more information on the EU’s support to Chernobyl:

http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/how/finance/nsci_en.htm
http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/what/energy/nuclear-safety_en.htm
http://nuclear.jrc.ec.europa.eu/tacis-insc/

See the photo gallery of MEPs’ visit