World's biggest movable construction hides Ukraine's nuclear scar
Years of struggle and joint efforts have finally paid off. The biggest movable construction in the world has covered the catastrophe at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant. Thanks to this arc, the infamous fourth reactor will soon no longer emit radiation. A much welcome relief for the country, that suffered from nuclear pollution for decades.
Learn more about the exclusion zone in UT special project Chornobyl Disaster: Ukraine's Sorrow
Sergiy Oganesyan, UT correspondent: For the past 30 years this area in northern Ukraine has been damaged by radiation from the Chornobyl nuclear power plant. The old confinement was hastily built back in 1986, several months after the catastrophe. It was an emergency measure and wasn't all that great at keeping the radiation. The new sarcophagus is expected to finally seal off the contamination, for the next 100 years. The world has made Chornobyl safe again. But will it be enough to bring life back to this desolated location? Only time will tell.
The overall cost of the project is more than two billion dollars. Dozens of countries and international organizations contributed to the construction. It was designed and built by French consortium Novarka. The new sarcophagus is bigger than the Statue of Liberty, wider than the football stadium in Paris, and heavier than the Eiffel tower. It was assembled near the exploded nuclear reactor, and slowly rolled onto it afterwards.
Nicolas Caille, Novarka project director: It took 25 thousand hours to go from the start of the planning to the completion of the construction. And zero nuclear contamination in the process.
Hundreds of guests from all over the world gathered in Chornobyl to celebrate this crucial milestone. Ukrainian President couldn't hide his emotions and praised the collective efforts.
Petro Poroshenko, Ukrainian President: Yes, we did this! Let everybody see, what Ukraine and the world can achieve when we unite, how we can protect the world from nuclear pollution and a nuclear threat. It would be really great, if we could keep this strong solidarity in the name of peace.
But the work is not nearly finished yet. The arc has just been placed over the power plant. The sarcophagus will become fully operational only in late 2017. It will also allow engineers to begin the disassembly of the old, Soviet confinement.
Igor Gramotkin, Chornobyl nuclear power plant general director: We built the arc so that our grandchildren wouldn't have to, this is our contribution to the next generation. In 2018 we are going to start dismantle the first unstable constructions, and we will try to disassemble the most critical unstable construction of the old confinement before 2023.
The help of the world community ends, when the arc goes live. Then it will become solely Ukraine's responsibility for the generations to come.