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Chernobyl’s New Safe Confinement (NSC) is a design and construction project unprecedented in the history of engineering.
Never before has such a huge structure been assembled under comparable circumstances and in the vicinity of a heavily contaminated site.
Overcoming the risks and difficulties inherent in the project required years of groundwork and preparation, as laid down in the Shelter Implementation Plan (SIP). Work on the New Safe Confinement at the site started in late 2010 and, according to the current schedule, is expected to be completed by 2017.
Excavation work and the piling of the arch’s foundations are now complete, as is the preparation of the assembly area with its vast lifting towers. The assembly area is covered with a concrete slab to minimise radiation exposure.
The latest landmark achieved was the lifting of the first half of the arch to its complete height and moving it into a parking position in April 2014. In total, the assembly will require six single lifting operations, each one adding a new segment and raising the whole structure accordingly. The first lifting took place in November 2012.
When completed, the New Safe Confinement will prevent the release of contaminated material from the present shelter and at the same time protect the structure from external impacts such as extreme weather.
The new structure will also be an extraordinary landmark, tall enough to house London’s St Paul’s or Paris’ Notre Dame cathedrals, To minimise the risk of workers’ exposure to radiation, it is being assembled in the vicinity of the site and then slid into position.
The New Safe Confinement will eventually rise to a height of 110 metres, will be 165 metres long, have a span of 260 metres and a lifetime of a minimum of 100 years.
The arch-shaped structure will weigh more than 30,000 tons. Its frame is a huge lattice construction of tubular steel members built on two longitudinal concrete beams.
It will provide a safe working environment equipped with heavy duty cranes for the future dismantling of the shelter and waste management after the completion of the NSC.
It will be strong enough to withstand a tornado and its sophisticated ventilation system will minimise the risk of corrosion, ensuring that there is no need to replace the coating and expose workers to radiation during the structure’s lifetime.
The contract for this unprecedented design and construction project was awarded to the Novarka consortium led by the French construction companies Bouygues and Vinci in 2007.
The consortium is working with local sub-contractors and others from across the world. For instance, the arch is made of elements prefabricated in Italy and transported to the site in Ukraine. The cranes used will be manufactured in the US.
Contracts are awarded in accordance with the EBRD’s procurement policies and rules and implemented in line with the Bank’s Environmental and Social Policy.
The New Safe Confinement is a key part of the Shelter Implementation Plan. Its construction is financed via the Chernobyl Shelter Fund, managed by the EBRD as mandated by the G7 and on behalf of the contributors to the Fund.
Last updated 9 June 2014
For further enquires about our work at Chernobyl, contact the EBRD Nuclear Safety Department at email@example.com.
The EBRD manages six multinational nuclear safety funds to address the potential hazards posed by obsolete nuclear sites and equipment in our region.