The 1986 accident at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine led to the destruction of one of its four generating units. Radioactive contamination spread for several hundred kilometres around the site, resulting in tonnes of nuclear waste and spent fuel being left without protection or control. A large part of Europe was seriously contaminated by the cloud. A team of engineers was established in the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to manage a fund provided by the Group of Seven donor countries with the purpose of decommissioning several Soviet-built nuclear power plants built in Ukraine, Bulgaria, Russia, Lithuania and Slovakia. Chernobyl included a major site remediation and the construction of several facilities to process and store the spent fuel and the radioactive waste, as well as to protect damaged structures. This paper reports on the accident and on the progress with the design and construction of a new interim spent fuel storage facility, liquid and solid radioactive waste treatment plants, a solid waste storage complex and a unique and very large safe confinement that will be moved over the destroyed reactor in 2017. The major facilities have been designed for a 100 year life.
Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers February 2017 read more »