DESIGNERS IN the Ukraine were this week developing a unique fire protection system for the damaged unit four reactor at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.
Consultant Carl Bro and Ukrainian firm ADI have been awarded a £434,000 contract by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to design fire proofing in the structure.
The sarcophagus surrounding unit 4 contains the exploded reactor and other damaged buildings, but needs equipping with fire-protection before decommissioning can begin.
Traditional methods, such as water and ventilation cooling, cannot be applied because of the risk of spreading contamination.
'Designing fire protection for Chernobyl is a task with very particular requirements, ' said Carl Bro Sweden chief executive officer Ulf Palmblad.
'Water cannot be used to extinguish any fire as it would become contaminated and spread radioactivity. Neither can any smoke be ventilated out into the open, as is normal with fires, ' he continued.
'The technical solutions we produce must be customised for this project. They will be entirely unique as nothing similar has ever been done under conditions even vaguely similar to the situation at the damaged reactor at Chernobyl, ' said Palmblad.
Chernobyl Shelter Fund is fi nancing the work. It is a pool of more the £450M of donations from the G8 countries, administered by the EBRD.
Carl Bro is conducting field investigations to assess the condition of the sarcophagus.
Fire protection officer Jonas Svensson said 'We expect the final solution to be completed and out to tender in about six months. It will then take four months for procurement meaning work should start in late 2007.'