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Chernobyl's sarcophagus falling apart

 
 
 
 
 
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Chernobyl's sarcophagus. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Ukraine and Russia remember the Chernobyl disaster, which took place 25 years ago. In the meantime, the question of safety of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant still remains unsolved. A sarcophagus was built on the fourth reactor of the plant after the breakdown, but the sarcophagus has been falling to pieces slowly but surely during the recent years.

The largest nuclear disaster in the history of mankind took place in Chernobyl on April 26, 1986. The fourth power-generating unit of the plant exploded. The territory in the radius of 30 kilometers has been contaminated with radiation. Nineteen Russian regions – the total square of nearly 60,000 km2 and the 2.6-million-strong population – suffered from radioactive pollution. In Belarus, radiation affected 46,500 km2 of land, which makes up 23 percent of the total territory of the republic. The total square of radioactive pollution in Ukraine made up 50,000 km2 in 12 regions.

The Chernobyl nuclear power plant was shut down on December 5, 2000.

The sarcophagus built above the exploded reactor lasts for 30 years. Therefore, in approximately five years, the shelter will no longer be able to contain the process of radioactive emission from the destroyed reactor. The question of the construction of the new shelter above the exploded reactor has been gaining more and more importance recently, RIA Novosti reports.

The Ukrainian authorities intend to turn the Chernobyl station into the secure area with the help of a special construction known as “Shelter.” The latter is going to be an arch-like construction 105 meters high, 150 meters long and 260 meters wide. When the construction of the new object is finished, it will be moved over above the fourth power-generating block of the station, which is currently covered with the sarcophagus.

The countries of the Group of Seven, which demanded the Chernobyl nuclear power plant be shut down permanently, promised to fund the construction of the “Shelter.” However, they have not kept their promises. The construction of the “Shelter” has been pushed back several times already.

A large international conference took place in Ukraine’s capital Kiev on the threshold of the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. The conference was organized to attract attention of the international community to the problem of security of nuclear power stations.

The results of the conference were rather impressive. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych stated that the participants of the conference – countries and organizations – agreed to provide financial support for the construction of the “Shelter” in the amount of 550 million euros.

It was said prior to the conference that the amount of 740 million euros was needed for the implementation of the new project.

The following day, Yanukovych stated that Ukraine would be able to complete the construction of the “Shelter” before 2015. The new confinement above the fourth reactor will make the disaster-stricken power plant non-hazardous for 100 years.

It is also planned to built a storage deposit for spent nuclear fuel and a facility to recycle liquid radioactive wastes on the territory of the station.

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