Keys to Chernobyl shielding passed to Ukraine

11 July 2019

The keys for the New Safe Confinement (NSC) shielding unit 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant were symbolically presented to the Ukrainian authorities yesterday, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has announced.

A worker inside the New Safe Confinement (Image: EBRD)

The handover represents the next step in the transformation of Chernobyl into an environmentally safe and secure state, and the completion of the largest-ever example of international cooperation in the field of nuclear safety, the London-based institution said.

The event was attended by Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian president, Hans Blix, chairman of the Chernobyl Shelter Fund, Matteo Patrone, the EBRD managing director for Ukraine, Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, Balthasar Lindauer, EBRD director for nuclear safety, and donor representatives.

The NSC encloses reactor 4, which was destroyed by the 1986 nuclear accident at Chernobyl, and the provisional shelter built after the accident which still contains the molten core of the reactor and an estimated 200 tonnes of highly radioactive material. The structure cost EUR1.5 billion (USD1.69 billion) and was financed by 45 donor countries and institutions.

The giant arch was constructed in two halves near the accident site from 2010 to 2016 and was eventually slid into place over the damaged reactor in November 2016. It is the largest moveable land-based structure ever built, with a span of 257 metres, a length of 162m, a height of 108m and a total weight of over 36,000 tonnes equipped, including a crane system for future dismantling work.

The bank said the NSC is the "most prominent" component of its EUR2.1 billion Shelter Implementation Plan, which included the completion of crucial infrastructure and safety projects, such as the stabilisation of the old shelter.

The delivery of that plan and the NSC is financed through the EBRD-managed Chernobyl Shelter Fund, established in 1997 and funded by contributions from 45 countries, the European Commission and the EBRD, which is providing EUR715 million of its own resources to support Chernobyl projects.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News