5/2/2012 12:12:25 PM -

Ukraine has begun to build a new sarcophagus over the damaged Chernobyl nuclear reactor on the 26th anniversary of the 1986 explosion and meltdown, Ukrainski Novyny reported.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, Emergency Situations Minister Viktor Baloga, the State Agency for the Exclusion Zone Director Vladimir Kholosha and 21 ambassadors of donor countries took part in the opening ceremony of the technological stage of construction.

The main function of the new confinement is to limit the dispersal of radioactive materials. The first segment of the arch will reportedly be finished in October this year.

The Chernobyl nuclear station was built 18 kilometers away from the town of Chernobyl, 16 kilometers away from the Belarusian border and 110 kilometers away from the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.

The fourth energy block at the Chernobyl nuclear station exploded at 1:23 a.m. on April 26, 1986, releasing a great amount of radiation in the air and surrounding areas. A 30-kilometer “exclusion zone” was created around Chernobyl soon after.

The station was fully closed on Dec. 15, 2000, but the confinement dome built over it is slowly collapsing. Therefore, it was decided to build a new sarcophagus. 

A donor conference took place in Kiev on April 19 last year, where about 740 million euro was collected for Ukraine’s Ukrytiye Fund. Ukraine has allocated $104 million for the project. According to various estimates, the new sarcophagus will cost over 935 million euro.