After 72 hours of testing, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) declared the New Safe Confinement (NSC) structure at the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site to be completed.
The NSC structure that was moved into place in November 2016, was built and placed at a cost of $2.34 billion, including $800 million in funding from the EBRD and donations from 45 different nations. It was designed to encompass reactor 4 and the original sarcophagus at the power plant and keep the site environmentally secure for 100 years.
The announcement of its completion was made on April 25, thirty-three years after the steam explosion and fire at the plant that is still listed as the worst domestic nuclear plant disaster on record.
The original sarcophagus, which has been deteriorating, was built directly after the disaster in 1986 and took seven months to build. But it was deemed a temporary solution, hastily built.
The NSC arch that now encompasses the site is an engineering feat “unprecedented in the history of engineering,” the EBRD said. “Never before has such a huge structure been constructed at a heavily contaminated site.”
The design work for the NSC was completed in 2006 and construction begun in 2010. The original schedule called for completion in 2018.
The NSC is taller than both the St. Paul’s and the Notre Dame cathedrals in London and Paris, respectively. It is 108 meters high, 162 meters long and 257 meters wide at its base.
It weighs 36,000 metric tons. The frame is a lattice construction of tubular steel members supported by two longitudinal concrete beams.
“It provides as safe working environment equipped with heavy duty cranes for the future dismantling of the shelter and waste management after the completion of the NSC,” the EBRD said.
Built to withstand tornado force winds, it is also equipped with a ventilation system designed to prevent deterioration, “ensuring that there is no need to replace the coating and expose workers to radiation during the structure’s lifetime.”
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