New Work on Chernobyl’s Number 4 Reactor 27 Years Later

By: | December 20th, 2013

Nearly three decades ago, the Chernobyl nuclear power accident took place during a system test of the number 4 reactor which proceeded to explode, resulting in a meltdown that exposed the environment to radioactive contents of the reactor core.The lives of many of the 100,000 pilots and soldiers who worked to contain the accident in the days and months following the accident were ruined by exposure to radiation, often leading to sicknesses and death.

The maximum annual radioactive “dose limit” for living organisms is 20 millisieverts (mSv). At Chernobyl, humans reach this mark at 2,000 hours in the Chernobyl control room of the number 4 reactor and in just 10 minutes when standing above the sarcophagus built in 1986.

New Sarcophagus for Reactor 4

For a full look at the construction project, please see the following video:

Now a new structure is being built to cover the sarcophagus so it can be dismantled and a “safe and controlled” environment created to allow further treatment of the radioactive waste beneath.

Forty countries around the world have funded the $2.1 billion (€1.5 billion) project and 24 nations have contributed nuclear industry experts to complete a project that has never been attempted before. It is expected to be completed in 2015 about a decade behind schedule. The structure’s new arches are being built a few hundred meters from their eventual destination in order to protect workers from radiation poisoning.

Once the arches are completed, they will be welded and bolted together and slid along specially laid tracks over the top of the damaged reactor. The new structure will weigh 29,000 tons, stand 360 feert (110 m) tall and 843 feet (257 m) wide. An overhead bridge with cranes will help dismantle the existing structure and hopefully, eventually, the reactor. The structure is designed to withstand temperatures ranging from -43°C to +45°C.

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David Russell Schilling

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