At Leveltek International, we are always looking for the incredible things that steel creates. The New Safe Confinement is the structure intended to contain the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl, Ukraine, part of which was destroyed by the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.
The sarcophagus that currently encases Unit 4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant is a giant metal concrete structure quickly constructed as an emergency measure in 1986 to halt the release of radiation into the atmosphere following the explosion. The official Russian name is “Obyekt Ukrytiye” which means shelter or covering.
It is estimated that within the shelter there is 200 tons of radioactive corium, 30 tons of contaminated dust and 16 tons of uranium and plutonium (source Wikipedia). In 1996 it was considered impossible to repair the sarcophagus as radiation levels within it were as high as 10,000 röntgens per hour (background radiation in cities is around 20-50 microröntgens per hour, a lethal dose being 500 röntgens over 5 hours).
A decision to replace the sarcophagus with a “New Safe Containment” was taken and construction of the new structure is now well underway. Originally planned to be in place by 2005, the New Shelter is expected to be completed by the French consortium Novarka in 2015.
THE CHERBOBYL NEW SAFE CONFINEMENT
The Chernobyl New Safe Confinement is the largest moveable steel structure out there. It will prevent radioactive leakage from the old nuclear site. Just one way steel is keeping us safe!
According to The Chernobyl Gallery, The New Safe Confinement (NSC or New Shelter) is the structure, paid for by the Chernobyl Shelter Fund, intended to fully contain the damaged nuclear reactor and prevent the reactor complex from leaking further radioactive material into the environment for the next 100 years. The confinement is expected to be completed by the French consortium Novarka in 2015.
Photographs of construction progress can be seen at www.chnpp.gov.
The word “confinement” is used rather than the traditional “containment” to emphasize the difference between the “containment” of radioactive gases that is the primary focus of most reactor containment buildings, and the “confinement” of solid radioactive waste that is the primary purpose of the New Safe Confinement.
Objectives of the NSC:
- Make the destroyed ChNPP Unit 4 environmentally safe (i.e. contain the radioactive materials at the site to prevent further environmental contamination)
- Reduce corrosion and weathering of the existing shelter and the Unit 4 reactor building
- Mitigate the consequences of a potential collapse of either the existing shelter or the Unit 4 reactor building, particularly in terms of containing the radioactive dust that would be produced by such a collapse.
- Enable safe deconstruction of unstable structures (such as the roof of the existing shelter) by providing remotely operated equipment for their deconstruction.