Engineers enclose radioactive remains of Chernobyl 4

29 November 2016

The process of sliding the arched structure into place to shield the damaged unit 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine has been completed, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has announced. London-based EBRD said a ceremony in Chernobyl today marked the successful conclusion of the sliding operation, which it described as a key milestone before finalisation of the international program to transform Chernobyl into an environmentally safe and secure state by November 2017.

Chernobyl NSC in place - 460 (EBRD)
The NSC is now in place over the damaged unit 4 at Chernobyl (Image: EBRD)

The arch, called the New Safe Confinement (NSC), is the largest moveable land-based structure ever built, with a span of 257m, a length of 162m, a height of 108m and a total weight of 36,000 tonnes equipped. It will make the accident site safe and with a lifetime of 100 years will allow for the eventual dismantling of the ageing makeshift shelter from 1986 and the management of the radioactive waste.

"Thirty years after the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, the radioactive remains of the power plant's destroyed reactor 4 have been safely enclosed following one of the world's most ambitious engineering projects," EBRD said. The sliding operation was started on 14 November.

The NSC was moved over a distance of 327m from its assembly point to its final resting place, completely enclosing a previous makeshift shelter that was hastily assembled immediately after the 1986 accident.

The equipment in the NSC will now be connected to the new technological building which will serve as a control room for future operations inside the arch, the bank said. It will be sealed off from the environment hermetically. Finally, after intensive testing of all equipment and commissioning, handover of the NSC to State Specialised Enterprise ChNPP is expected one year from now.

Suma Chakrabarti, EBRD president, said the engineering milestone was "a symbol of what we can achieve jointly with strong, determined and long-term commitment".

Igor Gramotkin, director-general of State Specialised Enterprise ChNPP, which is responsible for managing the Chernobyl site, said: "We were not building this arch for ourselves. We were building it for our children, for our grandchildren and for our great-grandchildren. This is our contribution to the future, in line with our responsibility for those who will come after us."

The NSC structure was built by Novarka, a consortium of the French construction firms VINCI Construction and Bouygues Construction. Because of its vast dimensions the structure had to be built in two halves which were lifted and successfully joined together in 2015.

At a cost of €1.5 billion ($1.6 billion), the NSC is the main part of the Shelter Implementation Plan for Chernobyl, which involved more than 300 projects and activities. The €2.1 billion program is financed by the Chernobyl Shelter Fund. Established in 1997, the Fund has received more than €1.5 billion from 45 donors to date. The EBRD manages the Fund and is the largest contributor to the NSC project.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News