This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, a nuclear catastrophe that directly killed 31 people and seriously affected thousands of others. Now, in Northern Ukraine where the notorious site is located, a gigantic protective steel shield has been rolled into place as a “sarcophagus” to surround the defunct Reactor 4 in order to prevent radiation leaks for the next 100 years.
The massive construction project, which began in 2010 and cost roughly $1.6 billion, required engineers to build the “Chernobyl New Safe Confinement Sarcophagus Skidding” — 535 feet long and 354 feet high — almost 1,100 feet from its final resting place. The gargantuan half-cylinder, which weighs 3.5 times the Eiffel Tower according to The Guardian, was then rolled along tracks until it was finally placed over Reactor 4 and the original structure that was built over it in the immediate aftermath of the initial event.According to the builders of the skidding — made up of an international consortium including VINCI Construction — having the shield in place over Reactor 4 is “a key milestone before the fi nalisation [sic] of the international programme to transform Chernobyl into an environmentally safe and secure state by November 2017.”
The hope is to take the land surrounding the Chernobyl disaster site, which up until now has mainly been available only via drone footage or creepy VR videos, and turn it into a tourist destination for visitors staying in the country’s capital, Kiev.
“Thirty years after the accident, pains and costs are still there, but the healing process has come a long way,” Hans Blix, Chairman of the Chernobyl Shelter Fund said. “Moving together two halves of the huge arch and sliding the gigantic shelter in the position over the historic reactor is like closing a wound; a nuclear wound that belongs to all of us.”
What do you think about this monumental engineering solution to one of the most difficult nuclear dilemmas in history? Let us know in the comments below!
Images: VINCI Construction