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Highly dangerous and super expensive work to cover Chernobyl nuclear reactor

Workers can only spend a few hours at the reactor site before they reach the maximum radioactive exposure limit, and work is thus progressing at a snail’s pace

Despite the incredible lengths required to build the structure, it’s still only a band-aid


This Massive Steel Structure Will Entomb Chernobyl’s Reactor 4  (GREAT PHOTOS) KELSEY CAMPBELL-DOLLAGHAN 30 NOVEMBER 2013 When an unexpected power surge sparked the world’s worst nuclear accident in Chernobyl, nearly a quarter of a million construction workers risked their lives to build an ad hoc “sarcophagus” of concrete around the stricken reactor. It was a stop-gap measure — and now, almost 30 years later, one of the biggest engineering projects in history is underway to protect it.

The BBC reports on the $US2 billion project to protect the decaying metal sarcophagus, using an even larger metal shield called the New Safe Confinement, or NSC. In simple terms, the NSC is a massive steel archway that is designed to protect the surrounding region if the 27-year-old sarcophagus eventually collapses. The design was proposed back in 1992 by a team of British engineers, but planning has taken more than a decade — the project is now halfway complete, with a target date of 2015 for final completion.

There are myriad reasons it’s taken so long to get the NSC up and running, the first being the sheer scale of this 100m tall protective shield. Since it will cover the existing sarcophagus, the arch is big enough to house the Statue of Liberty and wide enough to accommodate a soccer field. It’s being built by thousands of workers and engineers from all over the world, each of whom has a monthly and yearly exposure limit based on where, and for how long, they work on the site.

It’s not quite as simple as putting a cap on a pen, though. The biggest complication is a tall metal chimney above Reactor 4, which must be removed before the archway can slide into place. Workers can only spend a few hours at the reactor site before they reach the maximum radioactive exposure limit, and work is thus progressing at a snail’s pace:

Work has started removing sections weighing up to 55 tons each. They must be cut off with a plasma cutter by teams of two men and removed by crane — a nerve-wracking process. If a crane fails, or an operator miscalculates, and a section falls into the reactor, this too could release a new cloud of radioactive dust into the atmosphere.

Despite the incredible lengths required to build the structure, it’s still only a band-aid: Designed to last for roughly 100 years, it is a more sophisticated solution to a problem scientists still don’t know how to solve. The hope is that, within the next century, we’ll have the technology to extract the reactor and the spilled fuel and deposit them — maybe in glass — somewhere safe. [Studio-X NYCBBC]


December 2, 2013 - Posted by | Reference, safety, Ukraine


  1. […] Highly dangerous and super expensive work to cover Chernobyl nuclear reactor ( […]

    Pingback by Chernobyl’s arch: Sealing off a radioactive sarcophagus | Pherecrates | December 2, 2013 | Reply

  2. If we did not have this insane myth about the powers of science and technology, we would have figured out by now that nuclear weapons and/or
    nuclear power are far too dangerous for a small, fragile, and finite planet such as ours is turning out to be. We have been looking for a solution to the rad/waste problem for at least sixty years, and we have not found it. The disaster at Chernobyl is far from being resolved; the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi (which the Japanese have consistently lied about) is steadily contaminating the Pacific Ocean and its life forms (many of which
    we eat) and the molten cores of the reactors have not been dealt with, largely because no one knows how to deal with them. The ancient Greeks understood what’s wrong with us humans: it’s hubris (not knowing when to stop). Our scientists/technicians are massively afflicted by hubris.
    A species as arrogant as we are cannot possibly survive on a small planet, where we are poisoning the soil, the water, and the air at unprecedented rates and where species extinction is proceeding apace. All this with a population transfixed by flashing screens seven hrs. per day if not more, and messing about with their I-pods and I-phones as if the survival of all our grandchildren were not at risk. What it will take to wake the human race up is beyond my imagination, but by the time we awaken, it will be far too late for our descendants. PLUTONIUM HAS A HALF LIFE
    OF 250,000 YEARS. Human civilization has not been here much more than 5000 years. What are we thinking of? Oh yes, I know. We’re thinking
    the genius scientists who gave us these evils in the first place will figure something out. When? No one knows.

    Comment by msvivphd | December 4, 2013 | Reply

  3. is it enough safe for us?

    Comment by Bangladesh Newspapers | December 5, 2013 | Reply

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