Thirty years ago — on April 26, 1986 — an explosion at a nuclear power plant about 14 kilometers from the town of Chernobyl, Ukraine, killed 28 of the site’s workers and produced fallout that harmed thousands who lived nearby.

Most plant workers lived in Pripyat, about 2 kilometers from the site. The town was abandoned shortly after the meltdown.

“Our thoughts remain with the victims,” said U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby. The U.S. is marking the anniversary of the disaster by pledging an additional $10 million to Ukraine to help ensure the safety of future generations living in the affected area.

An international effort is underway near the destroyed reactor to build an arch-like structure known as “New Safe Confinement.” The design seeks to protect the surrounding environment for the next 100 years and allow for the safe clean-up of Chernobyl.

Construction crane working under large arch (
The view from inside Chernobyl’s New Safe Confinement arch (

The structure, an engineering feat, will rise high enough to house the Statue of Liberty and weigh more than 27 million kilograms. It will be moved over the destroyed reactor in November 2016.

The U.S. pledge of assistance to Ukraine comes on top of the more than $400 million that the U.S. has already committed to help restore the site of the accident to an environmentally safe and secure condition.

Kirby said the United States looks forward to continuing to work with the Ukrainian government and the international community “to improve the lives of Ukrainians there and across Ukraine.”

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