A giant steel shield said to be the largest moveable structure ever built will in the coming days be fully placed over the remains of the devastated reactor at Chernobyl, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster. Thirty years after an explosion spread radioactive clouds across Europe, the internationally financed 1.5bn euro shield is designed to prevent radioactive material leaking out from the still highly contaminated site for the next century. The construction of the shield is one of the world’s most ambitious engineering projects. Once it is in place early next week, Ukrainian politicians and diplomats from around the world will visit the site to mark the occasion. “This is the culmination of many years of hard work by Ukraine and the international community,” said Vince Novak, director of nuclear safety at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The EBRD is the financial administrator of the project, which was funded by more than 40 countries. Work on the shield, which the EBRD says is the largest moveable land-based structure ever built, began in 2012 on a site close to the reactor. Spanning 257 metres, with a length of 162 metres, height of 108 metres and a total weight of 36,000 tonnes, it is now being slowly pushed into place – in 60cm bursts over a distance of 327 metres by a skidding system that involves 224 hydraulic jacks. Once it is in place, work will then begin on dismantling the shaky Soviet-built sarcophagus built in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.
FT 25th Nov 2016 read more »