KIEV, March 24. /TASS/. Builders have poured the first tonnes of concrete into what will become the basement of the wall of a new shelter over the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, Ukrainian state-run building corporation Ukrbud has said.
The wall will tightly seal off the nuclear power plant after a special arch, developed by the French concern Novarka has been placed over the third and fourth reactors of the power plant.
"When completed, the project will turn the shelter into an ecologically safe system and protect humans from radiation for a century. Construction work is to be over in May 2017," Ukrbud said.
At the moment the fourth reactor, which exploded on April 26, 1986, is under the aging concrete shelter built back in November 1986. The existing shelter covers about 180 tonnes of low-enriched uranium-235, 70,000 tonnes of contaminated metal scrap and concrete glass-like mass and 35 tonnes of radioactive dust (total radioactivity standing at two million curies).
At the moment the current shelter was still under construction its designers said its expected service life would last till 2006. In 1997 the G7 countries agreed it was essential to build another shelter covering the existing one.
The first unit of a new protective structure over the old "sarcophagus" is to be completed in November 2017. This will allow for dismantling the current unstable structures by 2023. The construction project was authorized back in 2004.