Thirty years after the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in the Ukraine, in which the reactor exploded and showered Europe in radioactive material, a new, more durable casing is being placed over the site, which is intended to seal off radioactivity for up to 100 years.
It is by all accounts an absolutely enormous engineering project. Another ‘sarcophagus’ – as they are called – was already over the site, but had been damaged over time. The original cover was a little more ad-hoc, and was built as a temporary salve for what was by all accounts a relatively huge problem. Y’know. Just a nuclear disaster.
The original casing will be dismantled and studied.
The new sarcophagus is a massive 31,000-ton steel structure which will contain both the crumbling stone structure as well as the reactor. The structure is as long as two soccer fields and taller than New York‘s Statue of Liberty.
A United Nations estimate in 2005 concluded around 4,000 people had either been killed or were left dying from cancer and other related disease as a result of the 1986 explosion at Chernobyl. A Greenpeace estimate pegs it as high as 10,000. Either way, its the biggest civil nuclear disaster on record.
There you have it, folks. When you blow up a nuclear power plant, people thirty years later still need to be worrying about your mess three decades later. So don’t bloody do it.
Photo: Getty Images / Anadolu Agency.