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Holtec, Ukraine plan $160 mln nuclear-waste storage site

Holtec International Inc., a US company that designs and installs equipment for storing spent nuclear fuel, will invest as much as $160 million in building a nuclear-waste facility in Ukraine, helping the country to cut the cost of recycling the fuel.

New Jersey-based Holtec will start construction in a year, Yuriy Boyko, Ukraine's fuel and energy minister, said yesterday at a press conference in Kiev. The government has not decided yet where to build the facility, Boyko said. Ukraine now ships its nuclear waste to Russia. A storage site will save $160 million a year, Boyko said. Holtec will get a quarter of the savings, Chris Singh, the CEO of the company, said today at the press conference.

Ukraine, with 47 million people, currently has five nuclear power stations, running 14 nuclear reactors. The country will build 22 nuclear reactors by 2030, in an effort to cut its reliance on Russian energy imports, President Viktor Yushchenko said March 23. Ukraine depends on imports, mostly from Russia, for 80% of its energy needs. A year ago, OAO Gazprom, Russia's gas-export monopoly cut off gas to Ukraine in a dispute over prices.

Ukraine eventually agreed to pay an average $95 per 1,000 cubic meters of Russian gas in 2006, compared with the $230 Russia and wanted the $50 Ukraine had paid. Russia raises prices again this year, by 34%. Ukraine shut down its Chernobyl power station in 1999. Chernobyl's fourth reactor exploded on April 26, 1986, spewing radiation across Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and northern Europe in the world's worst civilian nuclear accident. (Bloomberg)