KIEV — A donors conference seeking $1.1 billion to clean up the Chernobyl disaster site fell well short of its goal yesterday, but officials remained optimistic money will be found to make the world’s worst nuclear accident site environmentally safe.
Pledges from nations and organizations at the conference totaled about $785 million, along with $41 million from Ukraine.
The money is being sought to complete the construction of a gargantuan long-term shelter to cover the nuclear reactor that exploded April 26, 1986, and to build a facility to store waste from the plant’s three other decommissioned reactors.
Japan had been one of the top donors in previous years, contributing $103 million in total. But this year, after last month’s devastating earthquake and tsunami, it held back from pledging money.
Several other major donors in the past also did not announce pledges yesterday, citing their own economic difficulties or impending national elections. Among them were Ireland, Spain, and Canada. The United States promised $123 million.
An area of 19 miles radius around the plant remains blocked off and is largely uninhabited except for rotating maintenance workers a few hundred residents who moved back to their homes despite advice to stay away.