Letter: The fall-out over Chernobyl

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The Independent Online
YOUR article "Lethal legacy" (Section 2, 5 April) discusses the (lack of) structural integrity of the Chernobyl sarcophagus. Funds for the sarcophagus were part of a 1995 agreement between the Ukraine and the G7 which was intended to ensure the decommissioning of Chernobyl by 2000. This goal is now in doubt because the issue is being used as a political bargaining ploy by both the East and the West. As yet only a fraction of the sum needed has been raised, and the bargaining process is delaying the urgent need for repairs.

While Chernobyl is obviously important, there are several other nuclear plants of the same flawed design in Russia (Kursk, Smolensk, Leningrad) and Lithuania (Ignalina) as well as other plants that are considered to be unsafe, for example Kozloduy in Bulgaria. These should arguably receive the same attention.

The issue of nuclear safety does not appear to be addressed with any intellectual consistency. This is reflectedalso in the dramatic decrease in spending on nuclear R&D over the past decade. Without sufficient R&D the dilemma of nuclear problems such as waste disposal will never be adequately solved.

Kirsten Bindemann Nicole Foss Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, Oxford

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