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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Belarus to spend $1.6 bln on elimination of Chernobyl fallout

RIA Novosti

19/04/2006 14:12 MINSK, April 19 (RIA Novosti) - Belarus intends to spend $1.6 billion on social and economic rehabilitation of its territories affected by the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, the country's prime minister said Wednesday.

"Belarus carries a heavy burden of problems as a result of the last century's largest nuclear disaster," Sergei Sidorsky said.

"Twenty three percent of Belarusian territory became a zone of radioactive contamination, where one fifth of the population continues to live. Twenty two percent of forests and one fifth of agricultural lands were damaged."

Some 70% of the radiation released from the explosion of a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in neighboring Ukraine in April 1986 fell on Belarus.

The premier said Belarus had already implemented three state programs to eliminate the consequences of the catastrophe, spending $18 billion from its budget. This year the country plans to spend $1.6 billion to implement a fourth state program aimed to restore the social and economic state of the region.

Last week the speaker of Belarusian parliament's lower house, Vladimir Konoplev, said radioactive fallout from the disaster had caused major health problems in one out of every five residents of Belarus and inflicted economic losses totaling 32 times the amount of the nation's annual budget in 1985.

On Tuesday environmental organization Greenpeace said the estimated by the UN number of victims that would die from the tragedy was greatly downsized. Greenpeace said the actual number of deaths would reach 93,000 instead of 9,000 predicted by the UN.

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