Today, on the Day of honouring the participants of Chernobyl accident consequences elimination, the entire Ukraine bows low before the heroic people – liquidators of the largest technogenic catastrophe of the twentieth century – the Chernobyl tragedy. The complex of protective structures over the destroyed fourth unit of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was taken in exploitation 14 December 1986 and since then on this day we are honoring our rescuers.
Since the accident on April 26 a period before the erection of the first protective sarcophagus in December had been a particularly difficult period of unprecedented heroism and courage, when about 650 thousand of Ukrainians and representatives of other nationalities had been fighting to eliminate the consequences of the disaster. Thanks to the liquidators of the consequences there had been rescued hundreds of thousands of lives, while they became an example of bravery for the whole world. If not for the liquidators the aftereffects of the disaster could have been even more horrible and devastating, and the exclusion zone would have been much larger. Many of the liquidators gave their lives and health.
Ukraine and Eastern Europe are still suffering the consequences of the explosion. In connection with the gradual destruction of the old sarcophagus there has been preserved an especially high level of danger of leaking radioactive material into the environment.
In 2004, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development announced a tender for the design, construction and commissioning of a new sarcophagus for Chernobyl. The development of the project of a new sarcophagus was carried out by a consortium of companies Bechtel and Battelle (USA), EDF (France) and domestic enterprises such as the State Research Institute of Building Constructions, Kyiv Institute "Energoproekt", Interbranch Scientific and Technical Center "Ukryttia" (Shelter).
The activities started in April 2012 are coming to end. The protective structure over the old sarcophagus was slid in place on 29 November 2016. We hope that the new "Shelter" confinement will provide an opportunity for the citizens of Ukraine and neighboring countries to feel safe. I believe that these construction activities are a worthy continuation of a great work of liquidators having performed thirty years ago amid unprecedented threats to their life and health.
On behalf of the Government I express gratitude to all participants of liquidation of the consequences of the Chernobyl tragedy. Their feat will remain embedded in people’s memories forever!
Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr GROYSMAN