Mas­sive Ch­er­nobyl shel­ter placed over ex­ploded re­ac­tor

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD -

CH­ER­NOBYL, Ukraine — Work­ers com­pleted a mas­sive shel­ter over the Ch­er­nobyl nuclear plant’s ex­ploded re­ac­tor on Tues­day, one of the most ambitious engi­neer­ing projects in the world that one ex­pert said had closed “a nuclear wound.”

The half- cylin­der­shaped shel­ter was locked in place over the plant’s re­ac­tor No. 4 af­ter be­ing moved in on hy­draulic jacks for two weeks. It marks a sig­nif­i­cant step to­ward con­tain­ing the con­se­quences of the world’s worst nuclear ac­ci­dent, which oc­curred 30 years ago in what is now Ukraine.

Ukrainian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko de­scribed the new shel­ter as “the big­gest mov­ing con­struc­tion that hu­man­ity has ever cre­ated.”

Work­ers will now be­gin dis­man­tling un­sta­ble parts of the orig­i­nal cover, the so- called sar­coph­a­gus, which was built over the re­ac­tor shortly af­ter the dis­as­ter to con­tain ra­di­a­tion.

The April 26, 1986, ex­plo­sion at the re­ac­tor sent a cloud of ra­dioac­tive fall­out over much of Europe and forced the evac­u­a­tion of about 115,000 peo­ple from the plant’s vicin­ity. A 19-mile area around the plant has re­mained largely off-lim­its and the town of Pripyat, where the plant’s work­ers once lived, was turned into a ghostly ruin of de­te­ri­o­rat­ing build­ings.

The new shel­ter is 843 feet wide and 354 feet tall and cost about 1.5 bil­lion eu­ros, or $1.6 bil­lion, ac­cord­ing to the Euro­pean Bank for Re­con­struc­tion and De­vel­op­ment. More than 40 gov­ern­ments have con­trib­uted to fund­ing its con­struc­tion, which in­volved 10,000 work­ers.

EBRD Pres­i­dent Suma Chakrabarti hailed the shel­ter as “a tes­ta­ment to the last­ing in­ter­na­tional sol­i­dar­ity with Ukraine and the com­mit­ment to nuclear safety.”

BREN­DAN HOFF­MAN/GETTY

Peo­ple take pho­tos of the shel­ter placed over the de­stroyed Ch­er­nobyl nuclear re­ac­tor.

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