Chernobyl’s arch: Sealing off a radioactive sarcophagus
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
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
Killer robots will leave humans 'utterly defenceless' warns professor
Robots, called LAWS â€“ lethal autonomous weapons systems â€“ will be able to kill without human intervention.
Killer robots which are being developed by the US military â€˜will leave humans utterly defencelessâ€˜, an academic has warned.
Two programmes commissioned by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are seeking to create drones which can track and kill targets even when ...
Here's how much corporations paid US senators to fast-track the TPP bill
Critics of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership are unlikely to be silenced by an analysis of the flood of money it took to push the pact over its latest hurdle.
A decade in the making, the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is reaching its climax and as Congress hotly debates the biggest trade deal in a generation, its backers have turned on the ...
NASA Supports Replacing American Flag With A New Design, International Flag Of The Planet Earth May Be Used During Space Travel
Since Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, the iconic visual of the American flag they left behind marked NASA's success in going where no man had gone before, marking their arrival for future visitors to see. Since then, all space suits worn by Americans have been adorned with the American flag. However, NASA has been supporting ...
Top Bush Era CIA Official Just Confirmed the Iraq War Was Based On Lies
Twelve years after George W Bush initiated the illegal invasion of Iraq, ostensibly under the premise of preemptive self-defense, a stark majority - as many as 75% in 2014 - feel the so-called war was a mistake. As evidence rapidly accumulates that Bush's yearning to launch an aggressive attack was likelier due to a personal grudge than anything else, that ...
Secret Meeting in London to "End Cash"
Central banks aim to institute "governmental approval" for all purchases and sales
Economist Martin Armstrong claims there is a "secret meeting to end cash" set to take place in London before the end of the month involving representatives from the ECB and the Federal Reserve.
Armstrong, who is known for successfully predicting the 1987 Black Monday crash as well as the 1998 ...
|More News » |