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Chernobyl nuclear station nearly 3 decades on

Experiencing the Chernobyl nuclear power plant nearly 30 years after the disaster. Enformable, Lucas W Hixson, 28 Sep 15 “………Though the new confinement structure may not be the biggest project ever constructed, it is incredibly massive, large enough to allow enormous cranes and gantries to move freely under its steel roof.  The cover is being built on a large concrete pad, which is designed not only to carry the weight of the building, but also the supplies, hydraulics, and heavy industrial equipment moving in and out of it every day.  From under the new confinement structure we had our first up-close introduction with the Unit 4 sarcophagus.

Looking east from the new confinement structure we faced the western wall of the sarcophagus, which barely peaks over enormous concrete walls used for reinforcing portions of the sarcophagus and shielding workers below.  Running over, in, and around these walls was a network of steel walkways, platforms, and stairs.  The roof of the sarcophagus was visible and the new ventilation stack.  At ground level we could see workers moving in and out of the base of the wall and an adjacent portion of the reactor building, where openings allowed them access.  The radiation levels in the new containment structure I measured were between 291-919 uR/hr depending on how close I was to – and whether or not I was facing the sarcophagus.
The sarcophagus was a hastily built structure under extreme conditions and time constraints which was designed to stem the on-going release of radioactive materials into the environment.  (In Ukraine, they don’t call it the sarcophagus, it is called Объект “Укрытие” which means Object Shelter.)  Construction started within 3 weeks after the reactor exploded and was completed in a little over 200 days in November 1986.  The engineers who designed it said that the structure could be expected to stand for 20 years, it has been nearly 30 years and with some modifications and maintenance the structure is still standing.  Work has been done to deal with issues with the roofing and reinforcing portions of the structure……
At the end of every day workers go back to their changing rooms where they have the ability to shower and change back into their personal clothes.  Before you can get back to the train platform, you have to pass through two contamination monitoring portals, which ensure that you aren’t carrying unknown external contamination off of the plant site.  If one of the portals alarms there is a dosimetrist on hand who will come over and re-inspect you and instruct you on follow up activities you may need to take…….

September 30, 2015 - Posted by | general

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