KIEV, July 10. /TASS/. The European Union (EU) has officially passed the keys to the New Safe Confinement (sarcophagus), constructed atop the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant’s reactor number four destroyed in 1986, to Ukraine on Wednesday. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky took part in the ceremony.
"The permanent sarcophagus of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant has been officially handed over to the Ukrainian side. Therefore, Ukraine is now responsible for maintaining the construction, as well as for dismantling the original sarcophagus, built immediately after the accident," the EU delegation to Ukraine wrote on its official Facebook page.
The delegation also notes that "the EU welcomes the official handover to Ukraine of the permanent sarcophagus — New Safe Confinement — which was constructed at the site of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Moreover, the mission also pointed out that it is looking forward to the new temporary storage for spent nuclear fuel being speedily constructed.
"This is another big step in transforming the epicenter of the tragic 1986 accident into a stable and ecologically safe place," the EU delegation underlined.
The construction of the New Safe Confinement over the old Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant sarcophagus, also known as the Shelter Structure, began in 2012 following extensive preparations at the site. Due to the large size of the sarcophagus, it had to be built in two stages, which were then lifted up and successfully merged in 2015. A crane was installed inside the arch of the sarcophagus to dismantle the existing old Shelter Structure and the remains of the reactor number four. The new confinement is designed to be in operation for 100 years. It cost 1.5 billion euros.
According to the Ukrainian State Agency on Exclusion Zone Management, the arch has reduced the gamma-ray radiation around the plant by 10 times in comparison with the data collected before it was constructed.
According to Ukrainian media, the new sarcophagus is the largest transportable structure in the world. It can be seen from a 45-meter distance. The arch is 106 meters high, 257 meters wide and 162 meters long with a weight of 36,200 tonnes. Journalists note that four football fields could fit inside the confinement.