- KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - The shell covering
Chernobyl's ruined nuclear reactor deteriorated over 1997, increasing the
chances it will collapse and release radioactive dust, the plant's deputy
- Studies last year showed that the roof
of the concrete-and-steel shelter is weakening and the beams holding it
up are in ``catastrophic condition,'' Valentin Kupny told the Interfax
- Kupny is responsible for the so-called
``sarcophagus'' that was hastily built over Chernobyl's Reactor No. 4 after
an explosion and fire in April 1986, history's worst nuclear accident.
- Experts long have feared that parts of
the ramshackle shelter could crash onto the ruins of the reactor, sending
a cloud of radioactive dust into the atmosphere.
- About 37 tons of the dust remain in the
structure, Kupny said Tuesday.
- As part of an effort to close Chernobyl
by 2000, Ukraine and Western nations began raising money last year for
a project to make the sarcophagus safer. About $400 million has been pledged
out of $760 million needed.
- Chernobyl's third reactor, the only one
still functioning, has been shut for repairs since last summer.