Chernobyl project passes new landmark

By Axel  Reiserer


The construction of the New Safe Confinement in Chernobyl has passed a new landmark. The second half of the giant structure was successfully lifted to full height of 108 metres in a full-day operation on Friday, 24 October. Subject to weather conditions the two halves will now be joined before the end of the year.

Vince Novak, EBRD Director, Nuclear Safety, said: “This is a fantastic achievement which brings our project a big step forward. It is a result of impressive engineering and dedicated implementation on the ground where the works are proceeding at an excellent speed. This is only possible thanks to the continuous support of the donor community.”

The New Safe Confinement will transform Chernobyl reactor 4, which was destroyed in the 1986 accident, into an environmentally safe and secure site. The structure has a height of 108 metres, a length of 162 metres, a span of 257 metres and a weight of 36,000 tones. Its frame is a lattice construction of tubular steel members built on two longitudinal concrete beams. Never before in the history of human engineering has such a large structure been erected on a contaminated site.

The New Safe Confinement is being assembled in two halves. It will be equipped with automated heavy duty cranes. Once fully assembled, it will be slid over the current shelter housing reactor 4. The structure will prevent the intrusion of water and snow and provide equipment for the eventual deconstruction and dismantling of the old shelter and the remnants of the damaged reactor.

The structure will be strong enough to withstand a tornado and its sophisticated ventilation system will eliminate the risk of corrosion, ensuring that there is no need to replace the coating and expose workers to radiation during the structure’s lifetime of at least 100 years.

Physical work on the New Safe Confinement started with excavation works in late 2010. The first half of the arch was completed in April 2014, the second half has now reached its full height. The project is now scheduled to be completed by end-2017.

The cost of the entire Chernobyl Shelter Implementation Plan (SIP), of which the New Safe Confinement is the most prominent project, is estimated at around €2.15 billion based on a thorough and complete analysis of the final approved design of the New Safe Confinement and of the current advanced status of the design and installation of its auxiliary systems.

The Chernobyl Shelter Fund was set up at the EBRD in 1997 following the initiative by the G7, the European Commission and Ukraine to finance the SIP. To date, 43 countries and organizations have donated or contributed more than € 1 billion to the Fund. The EBRD has so far provided € 325 million of its own funds to help finance the New Safe Confinement and an interim storage facility for spent nuclear fuel at the site.