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Published: Wed, November 30, 2016
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Chernobyl shelter safely placed over exploded reactor

Chernobyl shelter safely placed over exploded reactor

CHERNOBYL, Ukraine (AP) - Workers completed a massive shelter over the Chernobyl nuclear plant's exploded reactor on Tuesday, one of the most ambitious engineering projects in the world that one expert said had closed "a nuclear wound".

The fund for construction of the New Safety Confinement of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant (NPP) has been functioning since 1997.

Easily visible from kilometres away, the 36,000 tonne "New Safe Confinement" arch has been slowly pulled over the site over the past four days to create a casement to block radiation and allow the remains of the reactor to be dismantled safely.

Chernobyl shelter safely placed over exploded reactor
Chernobyl shelter safely placed over exploded reactor

More than thirty years after the world's worst nuclear disaster, a crumbling concrete and lead shelter called the "sarcophagus" that spared Europeans from fatal radioactive fallout has been replaced-by an even larger, more vast steel structure known as the New Safe Confinement.

On November 29, the world's largest movable metal structure was placed over the stricken fourth reactor to replace the decaying concrete structure that rescuers put into place in the wake of the April 1986 disaster that sent radiation spewing across Europe.

The 2.1-billion-euro ($2.2-billion) structure sponsored by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has been edged into place over an existing crumbling dome that the Soviets built in haste when disaster struck three decades ago. More than 40 governments have contributed to funding its construction, which involved 10,000 workers. Suma Chakrabarti, EBRD president, said in a statement, "The old shelter has now disappeared from our sight, but we're never going to forget the human toll of the 1986 accident and we owe our thoughts today to the victims of that accident".

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