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The ‘sarcophagus’ that entombed the Chernobyl nuclear disaster for 30 years is at a high risk to collapse via National Post

The sarcophagus, hastily set up to stop radioactive contamination from spreading, was never built to last

In an attempt to contain as much of the radioactive materials as possible, 600,000 workers from the USSR quickly began to build a large structure around the destroyed reactor, often without the necessary protective gear. Workers rushed to fill in open spaces with thousands of cubic metres of concrete, helicopters dropped debris directly into the reactor, and miners dug to prevent searing nuclear runoff from melting through the foundation of the base and into the ground below.

The entire section of the facility was covered by massive concrete walls — its ominous appearance gave it the nickname the “sarcophagus”.

n the end, the structure was able to prevent hundreds of tonnes of radioactive contaminants from getting out. Thirty-one people died of radiation poisoning during or after construction was completed.

The sarcophagus had to be set up as fast as possible — construction only took about five months — and was never built to last. LiveScience reports that the building lacks bolted joints, and openings in the roof have allowed water to seep in and corrode the structure. Now, more than 30 years after its construction, its collapse is imminent.

[…]

But dismantling the entombed nuclear reactor won’t mean that the plant will once again be exposed to the open air — an even bigger containment shell has already been put in place directly above it.

Called the “New Safe Confinement”, the $2.2 billion CAD project is a massive arched dome that was built to completely engulf and contain the reactor and its fragile shell. It was announced in 2007 and completed earlier this year. To avoid possible contamination, the 354-foot-high structure was built next to the reactor, and was wheeled over to fit over the site.

[…]

According to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the NSC is the “largest moveable land-based structure ever built” and is expected to last 100 years.

The sarcophagus will be completely cordoned off from the outside world as cranes begin to dismantle its structure, which is expected to be completed by 2023.

Read more at The ‘sarcophagus’ that entombed the Chernobyl nuclear disaster for 30 years is at a high risk to collapse

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