Sep 19, 2007

Steel cover on Chernobyl

The site of the world's worst ever nuclear accident will be covered over with a giant steel plate in a final effort to stop radiation leaks. Officials signed a US$505 million (£252 million) contract with a French-led consortium for construction of a new shelter for the Chernobyl reactor this week. The project, financed by an international fund managed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, will be designed and built by the French-led consortium Novarka, which includes the companies Bouygues SA and Vinci SA.

Chernobyl's reactor No. 4 exploded on April 26, 1986, spewing radiation over a large swathe of the former Soviet Union and much of northern Europe. The new shelter - an arch-shaped steel structure 345 feet (105 metres) tall and 490 feet (150 metres) long - will enclose the concrete sarcophagus erected hastily after the 1986 accident. That structure has been crumbling and leaking radiation for more than a decade. The plan is to eventually dismantle the sarcophagus and the exploded reactor inside the new shelter.

"I am convinced that today, possibly for the first time, we can frankly tell the national and international community that the answer to the problem of sheltering the Chernobyl nuclear plant was found today," President Viktor Yushchenko said at the signing ceremony, according to the presidential Web site. Link


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