Ukraine Starts New Chornobyl Sarcophagus Construction
Kyiv, April 26, 2012. On the day of the 26th anniversary of the nuclear disaster in the town of Chornobyl, Ukraine, the state officials unveil the construction works on a new shelter. It will cover Block 4 of the nuclear power plant where the lamentable accident happened 26 years ago. The cost of the project approaches one billion euro, according to official Kyiv.
“This project’s successful implementation will ensure that the surrounding area becomes environmentally safe and that there is no radiation leak into the atmosphere,” said President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych at the start of the construction ceremony. The construction is expected to end in 2015. The Ukrainian leader also acknowledged the support and financial assistance of other nations.
The new casket will not be built directly on top of the reactor, but rather constructed in the nearby area and later moved onto the hazardous part of the plant, hermetically covering it as a lid. The confinement will reach the height of 109 meters and be 150 meters long. It is expected to lock the damaged radioactive reactor for the next 100 years. Extraction of radioactive materials from under the lid will begin in 30 years.
The new sarcophagus would replace the one constructed right after the 1986 tragedy. The construction of the original Chornobyl shelter began on May 20, 1986, – three weeks after the accident, and lasted for 206 days.
Over 400 thousand m3 of concrete and 7300 tons of metal framework were used to lock in 16 tons of uranium and plutonium, 200 tons of radioactive corium, and 30 tons of contaminated dust. Nonetheless, a massive radiation leak into the environment took place as a result of the explosion and the 10-day fire at the plant.
Reportedly, radiation released as the result of the Chornobyl disaster amounted to approximately 50 million curie. This quantity is comparable to the radiation release from about 500 atomic bombs of the type dispatched onto Hiroshima in 1945.
In 1988 scientists announced that the sarcophagus would hold for 20 to 30 years. Therefore, the Chornobyl Shelter Fund was established in December of 1997 to collect funds for the New Safe Confinement project. The remaining in service three blocks of the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant were shut down on December 15, 2000.