Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Chernobyl Reactor Confined

A new 36,000 ton arch, the largest mobile construction on Earth, was finally moved over the ruins of Chernobyl's Reactor #4 and its temporary concrete sarcophagus.  A ceremony Tuesday marked the historic event.   The arch with a span of 257m was moved two tenths of a mile into position.  The structure will make the destroyed reactor site safe and is designed to remain in use for a hundred years.  This time will be used to slowly dismantle the makeshift concrete containment and dispose of its contaminated remains.  The containment was built by a consortium of French firms which started work in 2010. 

Thirty years ago Chernobyl #4 burnt to the ground during an ill-planned stress test during which power to the reactor was shut down.  The graphite fire produced updrafts that lasted nine days and heaved tons of radioactive material into the atmosphere that spread over Europe.  The disaster was classified a level 7 event, and that has only been equaled by the Fukushima disaster in March 2011.  It is the costliest nuclear accident in history in terms of money and casualties.  Hundreds of "liquidators" died fighting the flames and removing intensely radioactive debris. The Director General of Chernobyl Nuclear Power said the arch was constructed not only to protect the present generation, but  "for our children, our grandchildren and for our great grandchildren.  This is our contribution to the future, in line with our responsibility to those who will come after us."