The new safe confinement system at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine has successfully completed its final commissioning test.
Successful conclusion of the 72-hour trial operation test, a day before the 33rd anniversary of the 1986 nuclear accident at the site, marks the safe physical completion of the new structure placed over the destroyed reactor four.
The new system will protect the environment from further releases of radioactive material and enable the long-term safe and secure deconstruction of the old shelter and the destroyed reactor, as well as the removal of the radioactive inventory.
A massive reinforced concrete sarcophagus has been built beside the reactor and moved into place over the top of it during a decade long and €2.1bn (£1.8bn) project.
The catastrophic failure of the reactor occurred in April 1986 killing 28 people directly. An undisclosed number thought to be in the thousands later died from resulting cancer and radiation sickness. After the fatal explosion, a sarcophagus structure was erected over the damaged reactor, but this had a limited life-span of 30 years.
Radioactive contamination meant that the plant had to be evacuated a 30km exclusion zone was declared. This remains in place.
In 2017, internal footage of the new confinement system was released showing the scale of the operation to dismantle the stricken reactor.
Funding for the project was provided by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s Chernobyl Shelter Fund.
EBRD nuclear safety director Balthasar Lindauer said: “This is a tremendous success and the result of the outstanding cooperation of all parties involved. We thank our donors for their commitment and our partners for the finalisation of this unique project.”
The new safe confinement is part of the shelter implementation plan to transform Chernobyl into an environmentally safe and secure environment.
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