after 26 years, a start to cover damaged Chernobyl nuclear plant
Work begins on ‘mausoleum’ for worst nuclear disaster, 26 years on, scotsman.com 27 April 2012 TWENTY-SIX years to the day after the world’s worst nuclear disaster, Ukraine yesterday began construction of a vast new metal shelter to contain the stricken Chernobyl reactor.
The 20,000-tonne structure, big enough to enclose the Statue of Liberty, is due to be completed by 2015, allowing the delicate and dangerous job of dismantling the reactor and cleaning vast amounts of radioactive waste still around it to begin.
“The Chernobyl disaster underscored that mankind must be extra careful in using nuclear technologies,” president Viktor Yanukovych said at the commencement ceremony. “Nuclear accidents lead to global consequences. They are not a problem of just one country, they affect the life of entire regions.”
The 26 April, 1986, explosion spewed a cloud of radiation over the northern hemisphere, forcing hundreds of thousands from their homes in Ukraine, Belarus and western Russia. The Soviet government initially
tried to hush up the explosion and resisted evacuation of neighbouring
settlements, as well as failing to tell citizens how to protect
themselves against radiation.
A concrete “sarcophagus” was hastily erected over the wrecked reactor,
but it has been crumbling and leaking radiation in recent years and a
new confinement structure is necessary.
Mr Yanukovych said two million people have been hurt by the tragedy
and it was the state’s obligation to protect and treat them. But his
reassurances fell flat with Chernobyl clean-up workers and victims.
About 2,000 protesters rallied yesterday outside parliament in Kiev,
demanding more compensation and pensions.
Mr Yanukovych also thanked international donors for pledging €740
million (£615m) to build the new shelter and a nuclear fuel waste
facility. The biggest donors are the G8 industrial nations, including
Japan, itself still recovering from last year’s Fukushima nuclear
meltdown….. 1,000 workers are now beginning to piece together the
giant arch from French steel on an assembly site 200 metres away from
the exploded reactor. After it is assembled in the coming months,
workers will begin to lift it to slide it over the reactor. The
contours of the new confinement building should become visible by the
year’s end. Then a front and back section will be built.
Preparatory work has been under way since 2008. That included cleaning
up the assembly site, replacing contaminated soil, and then putting it
in concrete, which now enables employees to work without special
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