Chernobyl’s arch: Sealing off a radioactive sarcophagus
2013-11-29 0:00

By Nick Meo | BBC



Work began in recent days to remove, bit by bit, the giant chimney protruding from the Chernobyl nuclear power station. It’s one small part of a mammoth engineering project, now nearing completion, designed to slash the risk of another major release of radioactivity.

Massive and glittering in the weak winter sunshine, a half-built arch looms over Chernobyl’s decaying industrial landscape of cooling towers and power lines.


The ends of the arch will also be sealed

One of the biggest engineering projects in history, it has been likened to a gigantic metal igloo, built to seal off hundreds of tons of nuclear fuel and dust buried inside reactor number four, which in 1986 blew up and burned for 10 days.

Everything about the project is epic: the size, the 1.5bn euro (£1.2bn) cost, the technical problems of working on a radioactive building site.

At 110m (360ft) tall, the structure could house the Statue of Liberty, and at 257m (843ft) wide, there would be room for a football pitch. There are acres of metal panels in the roof, to seal off the reactor and the dangerous mess inside. The whole lot will be held together by 680,000 heavy bolts.

With these gigantic dimensions the arch would be difficult to build anywhere, but it is being assembled in one of Europe’s more remote corners, a site surrounded by forest and marsh in northern Ukraine, far from the factories of Western Europe where its component parts are made. This autumn, as the project reached the half-way point, it was more than a decade behind schedule, although engineers believe work will now go more quickly and it could be finished in 2015.

"Nothing like this has ever been attempted before," says Don Kelly, 57, a nuclear industry veteran from Washington State, as he walks under the arch. He works with foreign specialists from 24 nations, as well as hundreds of Ukrainian workers. Young French technicians, who monitor radiation, work alongside Ukrainian veterans of the 1986 disaster, former Soviet engineers who risked their lives battling to put the fires out after the reactor exploded, sending a cloud of radioactivity across Europe.

Grinning with enthusiasm as he stares up at the roof, Mr Kelly points out Turkish workers in harnesses far overhead. "For anyone in the nuclear business, this is the place you want to be: the biggest, most exciting project in the world right now," he says.

[...]

Philippe Casse acknowledges that getting rid of all this highly radioactive material will be far more difficult than building the arch.

"Disposal will be an even bigger project," he says.

"There is no money at the moment.

"It could be done in 50 years’ time. Perhaps there will be the technology to solve the problem then."

Read the full article at: bbc.co.uk








Related Articles
Ukraine, Japan to monitor Chernobyl and Fukushima from space
Japan and IAEA “grossly downplaying” Fukushima cesium releases — Chernobyl-like levels leaked
Visit Sunny Chernobyl: Author Says Nuclear Meltdown Good for the Environment
The 25th Anniversary of Chernobyl (2011)
Germany’s radioactive boars a legacy of Chernobyl
Ukraine to open Chernobyl area to tourists in 2011
The world remembers Chernobyl
Chernobyl: Life in the Dead Zone


Latest News from our Front Page

West’s tributes to late Saudi King reveal hypocrisy not democracy
2015-01-27 2:16
Hypocrisy is not usually regarded as a virtue of leadership, yet judging by the gushing tributes paid to Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah by various Western governments and establishment figures on his death, there are those who believe it should be. In the UK this hypocrisy has been stretched to breaking point with the decision to fly the flags over Downing ...
Millions of GMO insects could be set loose in Florida Keys
2015-01-27 2:34
Millions of genetically modified mosquitoes could be released in the Florida Keys if British researchers win approval to use the bugs against two extremely painful viral diseases. Never before have insects with modified DNA come so close to being set loose in a residential U.S. neighborhood. "This is essentially using a mosquito as a drug to cure disease," said Michael Doyle, executive ...
Furguson Scared The Super - Rich So Bad They're Planning Exits
2015-01-27 0:22
According to a speaker at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Ferguson and Occupy absolutely terrified the world’s super-rich, and now they’re buying airstrips and farms in remote locations to escape to. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which was held between January 21-24, over 2,500 leaders in the fields of business, international politics, academia and journalism met to discuss ...
The Ring Of The Nibelungs
2015-01-27 0:20
Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King (also known as Ring of the Nibelungs, Die Nibelungen, Curse of the Ring, and Sword of Xanten) is a 2004 German television film directed by Uli Edel and starring Benno Fürmann, Alicia Witt, Kristanna Loken, and Max von Sydow. The film is based on the Norse mythology story Völsungasaga and the German epic poem Nibelungenlied, ...
Google Street View Shows NAACP Bombing a Hoax
2015-01-26 22:58
Caught in the act: NAACP passing off old soot marks as new in ‘bomb’ hoax NAACP Colorado Chapter President Henry D. Allen Jr. has been caught in the act of passing off old soot marks as new damage from the recent ‘explosion’ at the Colorado Springs chapter headquarters. Although Gotnews.com has previously remarked on the minimal damage as reported by the ...
More News »