Home Environmental 30 Years After Chernobyl Disaster, Shelter Nears Completion (Video)

30 Years After Chernobyl Disaster, Shelter Nears Completion (Video)

Chernobyl
Inside and out, the arch is covered in stainless steel, and dehumidified air will be circulated around the structure’s steel trusses to prevent rust. Credit European Bank for Reconstructino and Development

On the night of April 26, 1986, engineers at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in what was then Soviet Ukraine performed a safety test at the plant’s No. 4 reactor. It did not go well.

In a matter of seconds, power inside the uranium-and-graphite core of the reactor surged out of control, setting off a steam explosion that was followed by a fire that spewed radioactive particles into the atmosphere.

By official Soviet accounts several dozen plant workers and firefighters died in the immediate aftermath. Thousands more were sickened by radiation, over the short and long term. The surrounding countryside, contaminated by radioactive fallout, was declared off limits to anyone without a pass to get through security checkpoints.

On the 30th anniversary of the accident, access within the 18-mile exclusion zone, which includes the abandoned city of Pripyat, is still restricted. But at the plant itself, things are looking up. An arched shelter designed to enclose the radioactive remains of the destroyed reactor is nearing completion.

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The arch, called the New Safe Confinement, is being built — at a cost of at least $1.7 billion — to last 100 years. Inside, the radioactivity levels will be so high that normal maintenance, like painting, will not be possible. So inside and out, the arch is covered in stainless steel, and dehumidified air will be circulated around the structure’s steel trusses to prevent rust.

It was built several hundred yards from the destroyed No. 4 reactor, and later this year will be slid in place over the reactor building. That will eliminate one of the greatest risks that still exists at Chernobyl: a structural collapse that could raise a cloud of radioactive dust and spread more contamination across Ukraine and into Western Europe.

[vc_btn title=”More on the Chernobyl diaster” style=”outline” color=”primary” size=”lg” align=”left” link=”url:http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2016%2F04%2F27%2Fscience%2F30-years-after-chernobyl-disaster-shelter-nears-completion.html%3F_r%3D0|title:More%20on%20the%20Chernobyl%20diaster|target:%20_blank”][vc_message message_box_style=”3d” message_box_color=”turquoise”]By New York Times, SouthFloridaReporter.com, April 26, 2016 

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