Exclusion Zone: Facilities, Activities

This information is intended to inform the public on implementation of projects aimed at overcoming consequences of the Chornobyl accident and on the main radiation nuclear facilities in the Exclusion Zone.  

The Chornobyl area is the strict access territory intensively contaminated by radiation due to the accident at Chornobyl NPP. The legal regime of this area is defined in accordance with Law of Ukraine No. 791а-12.



Main facilities at ChNPP industrial site:

  • Chornobyl NPP units 1, 2 and 3;
  • Shelter and New Safe Confinement (NSC, Arch);
  • Liquid Radioactive Waste Treatment Plant;
  • Industrial Complex for Solid Radioactive Waste Management;
  • Wet Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility (ISF-1);
  • Dry Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility (ISF-2).

Main facilities in the Exclusion Zone for radioactive waste management:

  • Vector Complex (Stage I and II);
  • Radioactive Waste Disposal Sites (RWDS Buriakivka, RWDS Pidlisnyi, RWDS ChNPP Stage III);
  • Radioactive Waste Interim Confinement Points (RICP).

Facilities to be constructed:

  • Centralized Spent Fuel Storage Facility (Centralized ISF)

Facilities at ChNPP industrial site

At present, all four units of Chornobyl NPP are shut down: unit 4 – in 1986; unit 2 – in 1991, unit 1 – in 1996, and unit 3 – in 2000. ChNPP units 1, 2 and 3 currently are under decommissioning stage and the Shelter is being transformed into environmentally safe system.

The construction of the Shelter above the destroyed fourth unit has protected the environment against release of radioactive substances and people, primarily those working at ChNPP site, against radiation. However, extremely short terms for construction in conditions of high radiation, use of remote methods, insufficient strength of remained structures in the fourth unit that became supports for Shelter building structures, significant amount of radioactive materials and fuel inside defined major risks and the need for their minimization.

On 12 March 2001, the Intergovernmental Commission on Comprehensive Solution of ChNPP Problems approved the Strategy for Transformation of the Shelter into the Environmentally Safe System, which will be implemented in three stages. The first stage is to stabilize building structures of the Shelter; the second stage is to construct the New Safe Confinement; the third stage is to transform the area into the environmentally safe system.

Stabilization of building structures was gradually carried out from 1998 to 2008. The construction of the New Safe Confinement has started in April 2012 and is still underway. NSC is planned to be finished in November 2016 and the Arch will be placed in its design position above the Shelter. In November 2017, the New Safe confinement shall be commissioned. However, the activities shall not stop while moving the Arch above the Shelter. The next final stage shall include creation of the infrastructure for dismantling of unstable structures in the Shelter, removing of fuel-containing materials and radioactive waste for further management, including disposal.

Large amount of solid and liquid radioactive waste with different activity level was accumulated at Chornobyl NPP during its operation and in the elimination of accident consequences in 1986. Within international technical assistance projects, Liquid Radioactive Waste Treatment Plant and Industrial Complex for Solid Radioactive Waste Management were constructed and are under commissioning. These facilities will allow treatment, conditioning of accumulated and generated radioactive waste.

Spent nuclear fuel at ChNPP site is stored in Wet Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility (ISF-1), which was commissioned in 1986. ISF-1 lifetime will expire in 2025. A new Dry Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility (ISF-2) is under construction at ChNPP to ensure long-term storage of all spent nuclear fuel. After ISF-2 commissioning planned for the last quarter of 2016, nuclear fuel will be transported from ISF-1 to ISF-2.


Facilities in the Exclusion Zone:

The Vector site is located in the Exclusion Zone at the 11 km distance south-west from Chornobyl NPP.

The Vector Complex is a complex of facilities on decontamination, transport and disposal of radioactive waste. The complex construction started in 1998. The construction process consists of two stages:

  • Vector Stage I
  • Vector Stage II

Vector Stage I is intended for storage of radioactive waste resulting from the accident at Chornobyl NPP. Stage I Startup Complex includes the radioactive waste disposal facility (SRW-1, disposal in reinforced concrete containers) and modular radioactive waste disposal facility (SRW-2, disposal in bulk).


Vector Stage II envisages the construction of:

  • centralized near-surface disposal facilities for radioactive waste generated during operation of Ukrainian NPPs and accumulated on sites of state specialized radioactive waste management plants of UkrDO Radon;
  • facilities for management of radioactive waste of Chornobyl origin and from sites of UkrDO Radon plants;
  • facilities for long-term storage of high-level and long-lived radioactive waste;
  • centralized long-term storage facility for radiation sources

In 2015, the efforts were completed on the construction of the Centralized Long-Term Storage Facility for Radiation Sources at the Vector site, mounting of its systems and equipment.

First priority measures on elimination of ChNPP accident in 1986-1987 included the construction of facilities for disposal and confinement of large amounts of emergency radioactive waste in the Exclusion Zone. The following radioactive waste disposal facilities were constructed: RWDS Buriakivka, RWDS Pidlisnyi, RWDS ChNPP Stage III and Radioactive Waste Interim Confinement Point (RICP).

RWDS Buriakivka has been under operation since. The disposal site consists of thirty near-surface trenches for radioactive waste disposal. Approximately 687,000 m3 of Chornobyl origin radioactive waste have been stored in RWDS Buriakivka since the beginning of its operation. At present, possible reconstruction of the facility is considered due to exhaustion of RWDS design life.

RWDS Pidlisnyi and ChNPP Stage III were constructed in the first years of ChNPP accident elimination. These facilities included the most hazardous high-level and long-lived radioactive waste. In future, this radioactive waste shall be retrieved from these facilities and redisposed in the geological repository.

Nine Radioactive Waste Interim Confinement Points are located in the Exclusion Zone: Stantsiia Yaniv, Naftobaza, Pishchane Plato, Rudyi Lis, Stara Budbaza, Nova Budbaza, Prypiat, Kopachi, Chystohalivka, with a general area of about ten hectares. Trenches and pits with radioactive waste are located at RICP territories. Efforts are ongoing on survey of RICP territories, service and keeping trenches and pits safe.

Facilities to be constructed:

The decision on the construction of Centralized ISF in the Exclusion Zone is legally formalized be the adoption of the Law of Ukraine “On Spent Nuclear Fuel Management with Regard to Siting, Design and Construction of the Centralized Storage Facility for Nuclear Fuel of National WWER NPPs” on 09 February 2012.

The Centralized ISF construction is planned to reduce energy dependence of Ukraine on the Russian Federation. It shall be mentioned that annually Ukraine spends 150-200 million USD to transport spent nuclear fuel for storage and processing to the Russian Federation.

Uatom.org Editorial Board