ASE keeps the lid on Chernobyl

19 August 2008

Repairs to the roof of the Chernobyl sarcophagus have been completed one month ahead of schedule, AtomStroyExport announced today.


Chernobyl worker 
Working alongside the shelter
The Russian company is the lead member of the Stabilization consortium, which in 2006 undertook work to ensure the continuing safety of the structure which shelters the remains of Chernobyl 4 from the elements. The other members of the consortium are Yutem Engineering, Atomenergostroyproekt, and Rovno NPP construction management - all from Ukraine. 


The structure was built in the weeks following the catastrophic experiment that destroyed Chernobyl 4 and has aged badly during the 22 years that have followed. The 'Object Shelter', as it is officially known, became less steady over the years - developing patches of corrosion and even some holes.


The Stabilization consortium laid a new surface on top of corroded areas of the existing roof's 420 m2 area and installed a device to allow water to drain from the roof's northern side. This work took place at a height of 60 m and in difficult conditions of elevated radioactivity. A crane was used to lift materials to the rooftop level, but workers had to carry components to their installation points.


The work was officially accepted by Ukrainian authorities on 12 August, and ASE's Vitaly Dragunov received a certificate for consortium's exceptional contribution to safety during the work.


The work on the roof comes as part of a larger project which has seen scaffolding-style supports erected alongside one wall of the shelter to take 80% of its weight. The stabilization as a whole is a precursor to the New Safe Confinement project, which will see a huge air-tight arch erected and manoeuvred over the main Chernobyl plant buildings. While the arch should last for at least 100 years, remote-controlled equipment will be used to dismantle and condition for disposal as much of the broken reactor as possible.


Funds for all this work are managed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and come from international donations.