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New arch-shaped confinement moved to position over Chernobyl reactor’s old shelter

French consortium Novarka is the general constructor appointed to build the confinement

CHERNOBYL NPP, November 29. /TASS/. A new arch-shaped confinement has been moved to the expected position over the old shelter that encased the fourth reactor of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, destroyed in an accident in 1986. A special ceremony on this occasion is underway at the Chernobyl NPP premises, a TASS correspondent reports. Taking part in the event were President Pyotr Poroshenko, representatives from the contractor companies (Vinci, Bouygue and Novarka) and also donor countries.

New shelter took four years to build

The arch-shaped confinement began to be put in place over the original 1986 shelter on November 14, 2016. A total of 224 hydraulic jacks were involved in operation. The arch is the largest structure in the world ever to have ever been moved in such a way. It is 165 meters long, 110 meters tall and 257 meters wide, with the total mass standing at more than 36,000 tonnes. It is expected to last at least for 100 years.

The New Safe Confinement (NSC) is scheduled to go fully operational in November 2017. That done, the radioactive structures inside will begin to be dismantled. The project is financed with donors’ money coming from the Chernobyl Shelter Fund, created at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in 1997. The project‘s overall costs are estimated at 2.15 billion euros.

The arch is part and parcel of a new multi-functional safe confinement, expected to convert the shelter into an ecologically safe system. It will protect the environment from radioactive dust that may escape into the air when the temporary roof of the old shelter and other unstable structures will begin to be dismantled. Also, it will prevent atmospheric precipitation from getting into the disabled reactor.

French consortium Novarka is the general constructor appointed to build the confinement. The construction started in 2012. A special crane has been assembled inside the arch for dismantling the old shelter.

Chernobyl disaster

The disaster at the fourth reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant occurred in the small hours of April 26, 1986.

Self-sacrificing efforts by cleanup workers from all over the Soviet Union prevented radioactive materials from getting into subsoil water. By November 1986 the first concrete 50-meter shelter was erected over the reactor by November 1986. It contains no less than 95% of the ruined reactor’s fuel-containing masses and about 70,000 tonnes of radioactive metal, concrete, glass-like masses and several dozen tonnes of radioactive dust.