A heavily contaminated area within a 10-kilometer radius of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine will be used to store nuclear waste materials, the chief of a state agency managing the wider exclusion zone said in an interview.
"People cannot live in the land seriously contaminated for another 500 years, so we are planning to make it into an industrial complex," said Vitalii Petruk, the head of the State Agency of Ukraine on Exclusion Zone Management. The zone is 30-km radius from the site of the 1986 nuclear accident — the world's worst nuclear disaster.
"We are thinking of making land that is less contaminated a buffer zone to protect a residential area from radioactive materials," he said.
Petruk said the agency does not plan to narrow down the exclusion zone because there is no privately owned land within the area and few people are wishing to return, unlike Fukushima, home to the 2011 nuclear disaster in Japan.
The complex will be used to store and process nuclear waste including spent nuclear fuel sent from power plants in Ukraine, he said.
"We are considering building a facility for alternative energy such as solar panels" so as to utilize the remaining electricity infrastructure including power grids for the Chernobyl nuclear power plant there, he added.
Petruk said the agency also wants to invite foreign companies to the complex. "We will ensure the maximum safety" to help their activities in the complex, he said.
As for the future dismantlement of the Chernobyl plant, Petruk said his country has been in talks with France for some two years about possible cooperation and it also wants to consider talks with Japan.