Installation of the critical cranes, ventilation and control systems for the New Safe Confinement (NSC) at Chernobyl is almost finished and the structure looks set to be handed over to the management of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the first half of 2018.
The huge arch was slid into place in November 2016, completely enclosing the previous shelter that was hastily assembled over Chernobyl 4 after the 1986 accident. Since then “strong progress” has been made in difficult circumstances, according to Vince Novak, Director of Nuclear Safety at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Work has included completion of the end wall, which serve as a partition between the contamination areas around Chernobyl 4, and the remaining turbine hall, housing reactors 1,2 and 3. The wall, built by Ukrenergomontazh, strengthens the existing facilities and will seal the New Safe Confinement from the environment.
The crane system, with a lifting capacity of up to 50t, has also been installed just below the ceiling of the arch. The fully automated system will allow for the future dismantling of reactor 4 in a hermetically sealed environment.
Meanwhile, a ventilation system will ensure relative humidity of no more than 40 per cent to keep the metal structure free of corrosion, while pressure differentials will prevent the release of radioactive dust and other particles.
The 36,000t NSC is 108m high, 162m long, and has a span of 257m. It is expected to have a minimum lifetime of 100 years and is designed to withstand temperatures from -43°C to +45°C, a class-three tornado, and an earthquake with a magnitude of six on the Richter scale.
The New Safe Confinement is part of the Shelter Implementation Plan to transform Chernobyl into an environmentally safe and secure environment. It is expected to cost €2.1 billion and is funded by contributions from more than 40 countries and organisations, including €715 million from the EBRD.
Photo: New Safe Confinement (Credit: EBRD)