It has been two years since a giant steel shelter was slid into position over Chernobyl’s crumbling radioactive ruins. The New Safe Confinement (NSC) was deployed in November 2016 to contain radiation from doomed the nuclear power plant for 100 years.
Correspondents takes a rare look at operations inside of the containment two years on.
The New Safe Confinement (NSC) was designed to prevent further radiation leaks from Ukraine’s stricken Chernobyl nuclear power plant. It took two weeks in November 2016 to slide the massive steel structure into position. At a height of 109 meters and a length of 257 meters, the shield is the world’s largest movable metal structure. It covers the crumbling concrete sarcophagus that encased Chernobyl’s reactor number four where an explosion in April 1986 spewed tons of radiation across Europe.
A new steel structure was built under the containment shield to support the decaying concrete sarcophagus in Chernobyl’s reactor number four. Eventually, officials plan to dismantle the sarcophagus and remove the remaining nuclear fuel from the plant.
Two nuclear containment specialists inside the main control center at the New Safe Confinement (NSC). Some 3,000 people work at the site, including several foreign specialists.
Workers at Chernobyl’s New Safe Confinement (NSC) inspect new equipment. Two years after the structure was put into position, containment systems are still being installed and tested. The cost of the shield was almost $1.6 billion, with funding coming from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Dozens of robotic cameras are located throughout Chernobyl’s New Safe Confinement (NSC). Steaming video is monitored from the structure’s main control room known as the Confinement Management Center (CMC). The containment structure is also equipped with automated fire-suppression systems.
Workers inside the New Safe Confinement (NSC) grind joints of the concrete pillars. Although there can be a lot of dust inside the shield, the level of the radioactivity is relatively low. Officials say there is little risk to the health of the workers.
The old concrete sarcophagus under the New Safe Confinement (NSC). There remains an estimated 200 tons of radioactive fuel inside the crippled reactor.
In order to move around Chernobyl’s containment structure, workers must routinely check if they have been exposed to radiation. This worker tests radiation levels with monitoring equipment known as a dosimetric control system.
Chernobyl’s New Safe Confinement (NSC) contains a labyrinth of passages, suspended walkways, and stairs. Elevators will be used in the future, but are still being installed and tested.
One of the two powerful cranes that have been installed inside the New Safe Confinement (NSC). They were designed to dismantle the old concrete sarcophagus that covers reactor number four. The cranes have so far removed the roof of the reactor’s engine room.
Visitors are not permitted past this point due to high levels of radiation. In April 1986, the toxicity of the radioactive cloud produced by the Chernobyl accident was the equivalent to 400 Hiroshima atomic explosions.
Workers and visitors must test their radiation levels before being allowed to leave Chernobyl’s New Safe Confinement (NSC).
Workers leaving the Chernobyl’s confinement structure.
Chernobyl’s New Safe Confinement (NSC) was designed to contain radiation for the next century.
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