KIEV, March 7 - The head of an American company expressed hope for government and parliamentary approval for a planned storage facility for spent nuclear fuel, saying it would ease Ukraine's reliance on Russia.
Kris Singh, president of Marlton, New Jersey-based Holtec International, also said the company is prepared to offer a multimln-dollar loan to implement the project, The Associated Press reported.
Holtec signed a contract for the $152 mln project with Ukraine's state-run nuclear power generator EnergoAtom in December, but it needs approval by the government and parliament.
"This project is critical for your country ... because it strengthens your national sovereignty, prevents the payment of outlandish fees for temporary storage of fuel abroad," Singh told reporters in the capital, Kyiv.
Currently, Ukraine pays Russia some $100 mln annually for storage and reprocessing.
Singh said his company is "ready to give an up to $100 mln" in loans toward the project.
Singh said he hopes for parliamentary approval by June, but that parliamentary elections later this month could mean delays.
He also dismissed criticism from former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who said last month that the project threatened Ukraine's energy security and warned of the creation of an "international burial ground" for nuclear waste from many countries.
Ukraine was the site of the world's worst nuclear accident when a reactor in the Chernobyl nuclear plant exploded in 1986, spewing radiation over much of northern Europe. Chernobyl was shut for good in 2000, but Ukraine has four operation nuclear power plants. (ap/ez)