University Of Georgia, Ukraine Sign Agreement

January 13, 1999

Aiken, S.C. -- Karen Holbrook, University of Georgia (UGA) Provost and Joe Key, UGA Vice President for Research, will visit the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory (SREL) Friday, January 15th to sign an agreement that sets forth the terms of operation for a joint radioecology laboratory in Chornobyl, Ukraine. The International Radioecology Laboratory will allow greater study of the aftermath of the world's worst nuclear reactor accident. The ceremony will take place on the UGA's Savannah River Ecology Laboratory Conference Center on the Savannah River Site. Since 1992, SREL scientists have been working with the Ukrainian government to understand and help remediate the effects of the 1986 accident.

On July 22 last year, during the summit meeting between U.S.-Ukraine Binational Commission headed by Vice President Gore and Ukrainian President Kuchma, an agreement between the United States and the government of Ukraine was signed which paved the way for the permanent International Radioecology Laboratory. The objective of that five-year agreement established the scope of cooperation between the two governments. The agreement to be signed on January 15th will set forth the terms of the new International Radioecology Laboratory (IRL) and the responsibilities of the parties involved. The Ukrainians signed the agreement on September 12, 1998.

Dr. Ron Chesser of SREL, director of the UGA Chornobyl program, has been named one of the directors of the Chornobyl laboratory. Later this month he will bring several Ukrainian scientists to SREL to finalize plans for the Ukrainian laboratory.

Initial funding for equipment and research programs at the International Radioecology Laboratory have been provided by the U.S. Department of Energy, the University of Georgia and the Government of Ukraine. The main IRL facility will be located in Slavutych, Ukraine and a sample processing lab will be established in the city of Chornobyl. The mission of the IRL will be to coordinate research by scientists world-wide to focus on the biological and ecological impacts of the radioactive fallout from the Chornobyl nuclear accident.
The press is invited for the signing and brief remarks at 12:45, Jan. 15 at the Conference Center. Call for directions 803-725-2473 or for a map. Also, please call for a copy of the agreement.

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