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Wednesday, 12 December, 2001, 23:18 GMT
Chernobyl head sacked over misused funds
Chernobyl nuclear power station
Chernobyl was the scene of the worst nuclear accident
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has said that the director of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant has been sacked for mismanaging funds intended to pay for the dismantling of the plant.

Tolstonogov let things happen which were outside his remit which is why he's to go

President Kuchma
Speaking on a visit to Chernobyl, Mr Kuchma said the director, Vitaly Tolstonogov, had made serious errors which could not be overlooked.

He said the police and the security service were investigating.

Chernobyl - the scene of the world's worst nuclear accident - was shut down almost a year ago in return for more than 2bn of western aid.

Energy needs

Most of the money is to go towards dismantling Chernobyl's faulty Soviet-design reactors and the construction of two new plants to provide electricity for the country.

Vitaly Tolstonogov
Mr Tolstonogov is said to have made "serious errors" over the funds

Mr Kuchma said half of Ukraine's energy needs came from nuclear power and the country had no alternative but to continue with this form of energy.

Mr Kuchma spoke during a visit marking the one-year anniversary of the closure of Chernobyl on 15 December 2000.

President Kuchma - whose visit included the nearby town of Slavutych, home to former plant workers and their families - praised efforts to help them adjust to its closure, but acknowledged that more needed to be done to reduce ensuing unemployment.

"Although there is positive progress, it's not enough for those who wish to work," he said.

Radioactive cloud

The Chernobyl plant was the scene of the world's worst civilian nuclear accident in April 1986 - when its number four reactor exploded, sending a radioactive cloud across much of Europe.

The exact number of dead has never been given, but about 30 people were killed immediately, while another 15,000 were killed and 50,000 left handicapped in the emergency clean-up after accident.

It is estimated that five million people were exposed to radiation in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.

Chernobyl's number two reactor was shut down after a fire in 1991, and reactor number one was halted in 1996. The final working reactor, number three, was closed down last year.

See also:

04 Dec 01 | Business
Ukraine links with Russia on energy
26 Apr 01 | Europe
Chernobyl remembered
13 Feb 01 | Business
Analysis: Ukraine's economy
26 Sep 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Ukraine
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