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Original Chernobyl 'Sarcophagus' Set To Be Torn Down

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Original Chernobyl 'Sarcophagus' Set To Be Torn Down

The steel and concrete sarcophagus that contains the remnants of the fallout from the Chernobyl disaster is being torn down before it collapses altogether.

According to reports, experts have warned that there is a 'very high' chance that the enormous structure - consisting of 14,125,866 cubic feet of concrete and 16 million pounds of steel will come crashing down.

So, the Ukrainian company which has been given the responsibility of keeping the building safe has signed a $64m contract to repair the damage by 2023.

A £2bn replacement for the original was unveiled earlier this year to limit the radioactive leak from the former power plant.

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The painstaking process of deconstructing the 30-year-old sarcophagus will involve reinforcing sections in order to keep it structurally sound while they pull it down.

The original sarcophagus is being torn down as it is no longer fit for purpose. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Carl Montgomery
The original sarcophagus is being torn down as it is no longer fit for purpose. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Carl Montgomery

Whatever is left once the job has been completed will be decontaminated and either recycled or destroyed.

In a statement, the director general for the SSE Chernobyl NPP, the company that manages the plant, Serhii Kalashnyk, said: "This is the next logical step resulting from our work carried out for the latest 12 years.

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"The contractor has simultaneously to disassemble Shelter and to reinforce it as the removal of every element will increase the risk of Shelter collapse, that in turn will cause the release of large amounts of radioactive materials."

The original shelter, which was built by 600,000 workers in the months following the meltdown on 26 April 1986, had locked in around 200 tons of radioactive corium, 30 tons of highly contaminated dust and 16 tons of uranium and plutonium.

But it had been in a state of disrepair for more than 20 years, with experts warning as far back as 1996 that it was impossible to fix.

The replacement superstructure was unveiled earlier this year. Credit: PA
The replacement superstructure was unveiled earlier this year. Credit: PA
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The New Safe Confinement (NSC) project was officially unveiled in July this year, and measuring 843 feet (257m) and a total weight of over 36,000 metric tons, has been called one of the largest land-based structures ever built.

To this day, the effects of the explosion 33 years ago are still being felt, with the World Health Organisation estimating that at least 16,000 people will die from cancer caused by the disaster, while others put it at more than 100,000.

Linda Walker is the CEO of Chernobyl Children's Project UK (CCP), a charity which supports families who were forced to flee their homes, providing medical and palliative care for their sons and daughters.

The group runs residential trips, taking children from Minsk to the UK, which Linda says have a great impact on the children's mental health.

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Speaking to LADbible, she said: "It is important that they get lots of fresh air and good food as the primary reason for their holiday is to improve their immune systems. But it is also important that they have a great time, make new friends and go home with many happy memories."

Featured Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Carl Montgomery

Topics: Science, World News, Ukraine, Interesting, Technology, Chernobyl, Health

Dominic Smithers
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