14 Nov (NucNet): Workers at the Chernobyl nuclear site in Ukraine today started the process of sliding into place the arch – known as the New Safe Confinement, or NSC – that will shield radioactive waste caused by the 1986 Chernobyl accident.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which is managing the financing of work to secure Chernobyl, said the NSC is one of the most ambitious projects in the history of engineering.
The NSC, costing around €1.5bn ($1.6bn) is the largest moveable land-based structure ever built, with a span of 257 metres, a length of 162 metres, a height of 108 metres and a weight of 36,000 tonnes.
It will now be moved into its resting place over Chernobyl’s Unit 4, which was destroyed in the accident 30 years ago.
The EBRD said the sliding is done with help of a special skidding system that consists of 224 hydraulic jacks to push the arch 60 centimetres each stroke.
It is anticipated that the total “skid time” will be around 40 hours of operation spread over arpound five days.
The NSC was constructed in a clean area near the Chernobyl-4 reactor and will be slid over 327 metres to seal off the unit. It will make the site safe and allow for the eventual dismantling of the aging shelter currently housing the reactor and the management of the radioactive waste within the structure.
Ostap Semerak, Ukraine’s minister of ecology and natural resources, said: “The start of the sliding of the arch over reactor four is the beginning of the end of a 30-year long fight with the consequences of the 1986 accident.”
The construction of the NSC by Novarka – the French construction consortium formed to build the NSC by Vinci Construction and Bouygues Construction – started in 2012.