Security & Safety

Chernobyl / New Shelter Officially Handed Over To Ukraine For Operation

By Kamen Kraev
11 July 2019

New Shelter Officially Handed Over To Ukraine For Operation
Panoramic image including the NSC in the background. Photo courtesy Chernobyl NPP.
The New Safe Confinement (NSC), a €1.5bn structure built to encase the destroyed reactor 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power station, was yesterday handed over to Ukraine for operation at an official ceremony, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said.

The handover ceremony also marked the formal completion of the largest example of international cooperation in the field of nuclear safety, EBRD said.

The event was attended by the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the chairman of the Chernobyl Shelter Fund, Hans Blix, the EBRD managing director for Ukraine, Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, Matteo Patrone, the EBRD director for nuclear safety, Balthasar Lindauer, and donor country representatives.

A concrete structure known as the sarcophagus was hastily built around reactor number 4 at Chernobyl in the months after the accident of 1986 to contain the radioactive residuals.

Never intended to be permanent, the sarcophagus deteriorated over the years and become less effective.

Construction of a new shelter began in late 2010. The structure was moved into position in November 2016. This operation took 15 days to complete.

The NSC is 108 metres high and 162 metres long, and has a span of 257 metres and a lifetime of a minimum of 100 years. The arch-shaped structure weighs some 36,000 tonnes. Its frame is a huge lattice construction of tubular steel members, supported by two longitudinal concrete beams.

The NSC – looking like a giant aircraft hangar – is a design and construction project unprecedented in the history of engineering. Never before has such a huge structure been constructed at a heavily contaminated site.

The NSC will prevent the release of contaminated material from the present shelter and at the same time protect the sarcophagus from external impacts such as extreme weather.

The EBRD said the NSC’s cost of €1.5bn was financed by 45 donor countries and institutions. The structure is the main component of the €2.1bn Shelter Implementation Plan which included the completion of crucial infrastructure and safety projects and in particular the stabilisation of the old shelter and the creation of the necessary infrastructure needed for the work at the Chernobyl site.

The EBRD said it is providing €715m of its own resources to support Chernobyl projects including the NSC.

In June, EBRD said the NSC will undergo one year of trial operation after a final commissioning test was completed at the end of April 2019.

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