: Giant arch to block Chornobyl radiation for next 100 years
Society20:31 Mar. 24, 2016
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Giant arch to block Chornobyl radiation for next 100 years

An arch is under construction in northern Ukraine to block radiation from the nuclear disaster site 

In the middle of a vast exclusion zone in northern Ukraine, the world's largest land-based moving structure has been built to prevent deadly radiation spewing from the Chornobyl nuclear disaster site for the next 100 years.

On April 26, 1986, a botched test at the Soviet nuclear plant sent clouds of smouldering nuclear material across much of Europe. A concrete sarcophagus was hastily built over the site of the stricken reactor to contain the worst of the radiation, but a more permanent solution has been in the works since late 2010.

Easily visible from miles away, the 30,000 tonne 'New Safe Confinement' arch will be pulled into position over the site later this year to create a steel-clad casement to block radiation and allow the remains of the reactor to be dismantled safely.

Read also Sandwich-making Chornobyl fox goes viral

Safety and environment manager, David Driscoll: "The arch is now at its full height, full width and full length. 108 metres tall, 250 metres wide and 150 metres long. And it will act as a safe confinement over the number four reactor and it is planned to last for 100 years, it designed to last for a 100 years, to give Ukraine chance to dismantle the number 4 reactor, to make it safe forever. We plan to move the arch at the end of November this year, to place it over the (existing) arch, the tilting panels you can see in the background will be raised and then lowered and sealed around the reactor. And then we will commission all systems to make sure it is active."

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development funded of the arch. It cost a total of 1.7 billion USD and involved donations from more than 40 governments.

Read also Fire rages in Chornobyl plant exclusion zone

The upcoming 30th anniversary of the disaster has shone a new light on the long-term impact of the worst nuclear meltdown in history. The official short-term death toll from the accident was 31 however the total death toll and long-term health effects remain a subject of intense debate with many more dying of radiation-related illnesses such as cancer.

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