April: Belarus has to spent 25% of its national annual budget on dealing with the effects of the 1986 disaster.
June: President Kuchma says Ukraine is spending US$1 billion a year to combat the aftermath
November: At a conference in New York, dozens of nations collect $350 million to rebuild the rapidly deteriorating concrete sarcophagus. The reconstruction cost is estimated at $760 million.
November: an international assistance program for the affected areas is launched by the UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs. The program covers more than 50 projects in such areas as the health sector, social-psychological and economic rehabilitation, and the environment, and is based on the findings of an inter-agency needs assessment mission to Belarus, Russian Federation and Ukraine, undertaken in May.
December: The Chernobyl Shelter Fund (CSF) was set up with the purpose of funding the Shelter Implementation Plan (SIP). The total costs of the SIP are estimated by the EBRD at US$768 million. Others however think the costs will be much higher. Vladimir Asmolov of the Russian Kurchatov Nuclear Institute and involved in the original construction of the shelter thinks that the costs could reach as much as US$2.5 billion.
26 November: Scientific seminar on: “Thyroid Diseases and Exposure to ionising Radiation: Lessons learned following the Chernobyl accident” in Luxembourg, organized by the European Commission. One of the major health consequences of the Chernobyl disaster is the sudden and great increase in the number of persons, particularly children, with thyroid carcinoma. The presentations made at the seminar reviews the existing knowledge on the subject of
radiation induced thyroid diseases especially in relation to the Chernobyl accident. The subject is treated from the four points of view: genetic and environmental factors influencing the radiation induced cancer risk; thyroid doses reconstruction and risk after the Chernobyl accident; age and molecular biology; and lessons learned following the Chernobyl accident.
14 December: for the first time Ukraine speaks about closure of the remaining chernobyl reactors under conditions: money from the international community to finish construction of two reactors to replace Chernobyl (K2/R4)
April-May: Reconstruction of the sarcophagus begins. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development releases US$130 million in grants for this first phase (improvements of the existing shelter).
14. May: In an internal memo to France prime-minster Jospin enviromental Minister Dominique Voynet states: “a programm to improve energy efficiency, would fit better to the Memorandum of Understanding for closure of Chernobyl, as K2/R4 replacement nuclear reactors”.
5 August: Belarus: After being arrested on July 13, on August 5, 1999, however, Professor Bandazhevsky was formally charged under Article 169 (3) of the Belarusian Criminal Code with allegedly accepting bribes from students seeking admission to the Gomel Medical Institute. Professor Bandazhevsky founded the Gomel State Medical Institute and was serving as its rector at the time of his arrest in July 1999. His scientific work focused on the effects of the Chernobyl disaster on the health of the people living in and around the city of Gomel, a region close to the nuclear reactor and thus seriously affected by its radioactive emissions. According to Amnesty International, Bandazhevsky was outspoken in his criticism of the Belarusian authorities’ handling of the Chernobyl disaster’s impact on the population’s health and had repeatedly stressed the need to find “innovative solutions” to the problem. [.... read more]
20 September: Nobody is allowed to live permanently within 15 km of the power plant site. And yet, in the early 1990s, elderly people began to re-occupy their houses in the said zone. According to the authorities, there have been some 1500, two thirds of them women. About 50 people again took up residence in Chernobyl itself. This resettlement is being tolerated by the authorities.
18 November: A Coordination Committee Meeting at the Ministerial Level on International Cooperation on Chernobyl takes place in New York. US$9.51 million is required for the 1999 Appeal distributed in May. Though the international community has largely contributed to the shelter fund, the affected populations have been chronically underfunded. The nine priority projects in the 1999 Appeal are: the modernisation of the Bragin Hospital, the establishment of child rehabilitation centres, the rehabilitation of contaminated sectors in the Gomel area (Belarus); providing diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of liquidators, improving management and use of contaminated forests, and studying the health status of the posterity of persons affected by radiation. (Ukraine); the screening of 100,000 children exposed to radiation for early diagnosis of thyroid pathology, strengthening the network of centres for social and psychological rehabilitation, and production lines for measuring and packaging of diary products for the Bryansk region.
13 January: The Ukrainian Government commissions an overall concept: parts of the Chernobyl area are to be re-cultivated.
March: According to documents from the Ukrainian Atomic Energy regulatory commission, published by Greenpeace, the safety of the remaining chernobyl reactors is not guaranteed after August
March: Belarus: Girls in affected areas had five times the normal rate of deformations in their reproductive systems and boys three times the norm. “It is clear we are seeing genetic changes, especially among tyhose who were less than six years of age when subjected to radiation”, says Vladislav Ostapenko, head of Belarus’ radiation medicine institute
April: Kuchma reaffirms Chernobyl is to be closed by the year end, but gives no date.
April: The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) releases the report "Chernobyl disaster – a continuing catastrophe". The authors concludes: “The radiological conditions in the area immediately surrounding the plant have largely improved, thanks to the international commitment to improved safety at Chernobyl, which allowed for the reconstruction and now reinforcement of the sarcofagus. However, the human consequences of the accident continue to be relentlessly harsh. The EBRD expects to complete the refurbishment of the Chernobyl plant site by 2007. A sum of US$400 million has already been pledged for this operation. A contribution from donor countries of just 3 per cent of this amount would have a substantial impact on the alleviation of human suffering that has resulted from this accident.”
26 April: While visiting the Chernobyl zone, president Loekashenko of Belarus announces plans to re-locate people to the zone. “People moving from other parts of the Commonwealth of Independent States will be given the Belarus nationality within one week”, he says.
May: Swedish radiation protection authorities have issued recommendations for the handling of ashes from biomass-fueled electricity plants. It was calculated that 5-7% of the yearly amount of biofuel ash has to be stored as radioactive waste.
6 June: Kuchma tells visiting U.S.-President Clinton that the ex-Soviet state will shut down the station on December 15. Clinton says the U.S. will give Ukraine $78 million in fresh funds to help improve safety at the plant.
5 July: The EBRD administers the Chernobyl Shelter Fund. As of July 2000, 37 countries had contributed US$715 million to the fund, which is 93% of the overall project cost estimate. Most of the money comes from the European Union and the G-7 countries.
The first phase of the Shelter Implementation Plan consisted of an expedited review of the collapse risk and the most critical repairs were conducted. Further, studies were conducted and designs been made for a structural stabilization of the shelter, to be conducted in the second phase. Two projects of the first phase which had to start without delay were repairs of the beams supporting the roof of the shelter (1999) and stabilization of the ventilation stack (1998), whose possible collapse was also threatening the then still operating reactor 3. The second phase will consist of the actual strengthening of the present sarcophagus and the construction of the new covering shelter.
November-December: Chernobyl engineers prepare to shut down the last functioning reactor, Number Three, on December 15. The last fuel rods will not be removed until 2008 and it will be between 30 and 100 years before the station is completely decommissioned. The EBRD and the European Union each pledge to lend Ukraine hundreds of millions of dollars to finish construction of Soviet-era reactors at Rivne and Khmelnitsky (K2/R4) in western Ukraine, to replace lost capacity from Chernobyl. The EBRD loan is for US$215 million, while the EU pledges $585 million. Environmentalists protest against the loans, which they say are going toward reactors which, although safer than Chernobyl's, are still based on ageing technology.
12 December: The Chernobyl reactor complex is shut down.