A consortium that includes scientists and engineers from Battelle, Bechtel International Systems and other companies have begun construction of a moveable building that weighs 20,000 tons and will eventually cover the remains of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Unit 4.
On the 26th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster last month, Ukraine officially launched construction of the project of building the new radiation shell - called the New Safe Confinement (NSC) - an arch-shaped steel structure that is being built distant from the current Object Shelter to avoid radiation exposure of construction workers. Once construction of the arch is complete, the team will slide the NSC - which is 250 meters wide, 150 meters long, 100 meters tall and built from one-meter diameter tubular steel - over the older Object Shelter, which is getting old and degrading. The NSC is part of the €1.5 billion ($1.9 billion) Shelter Implementation Plan (SIP), the master directive funded by donations from more than 30 nations to the Chernobyl Shelter Fund, which is administered by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). In 1998, Battelle - along with Bechtel and Electricité de France - won the $20 million contract for safety improvements to the current structure, according to a Battelle release. EDF has since pulled out of the consortium.
Conceptual design of the NSC was performed by the Bechtel-Battelle-EDF consortium in 2002-2003 and approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in 2004, according to the release. A contract for final design and construction of NSC was awarded in 2007 to the joint venture company known as Novarka, which consists of the two large French construction companies, Vinci Construction Grands Projets and Bouygues Travaux Publics. The arch’s steel is being fabricated in Italy.
Ukranian President Viktor Yanukovych spoke during the anniversary ceremony inaugurating the initial assembly of the structure, which is expected to take three and a half years to complete.
"On behalf of Ukraine I express my gratitude to all donor countries the Chernobyl Fund 'Shelter' for their understanding and active support of our country to overcome the biggest disaster in human history," he said at the event. “We never stop taking care of the safety of the covering of the fourth reactor.”
A video of how the shelter will be constructed can be viewed below: