Thursday, April 07, 2011


Chernobyl_burning-aerial_view_of_core.jpg - 56335 Bytes
Chernobyl aerial view into the core, smoke from the graphite fire and core melt down. The photo was taken from a helicopter on May 3, 1986, of the destroyed Unit 4. File:Chernobyl burning-aerial view of core. [Source: Wikipedia]



This well-informed report by Mark Peplow in Nature gives a fascinating insight into the current situation at Chernobyl. Two extracts as a taster. Read the full article here (also available as pdf download): Chernobyl’s Legacy

Valeriy Seyda, a deputy director of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, explains that the plant’s top priority now is to construct a new confinement shelter for reactor 4 before the sarcophagus becomes too unstable. If it collapses before the new shell is in place, it could throw up a cloud of radioactive particles and expose the deadly remnants of the reactor.

The plan is to build an enormous steel arch adjacent to the reactor and slide it along a runway to cover the building. The arch will reach 105 metres high, with a span of 257 metres — the world’s largest mobile structure, according to its designers. It is expected to be in place by 2015 and should last for 100 years. It will enable robotic cranes inside to dismantle the sarcophagus and parts of the reactor.

Long-term plans call for finishing the clean-up work at Chernobyl by 2065.

Some of the concrete trenches for the project are in place. But the international Chernobyl Shelter Fund that supports the US$1.4-billion effort still lacks about half of
that cash, and the completion date has slipped by almost ten years since the shelter plan was agreed in principle in 2001. One of the key goals of a forthcoming conference — Chernobyl, 25 Years On: Safety for the Future — to be held in Kiev on 20–22 April is to secure more cash commitments from international donors.

{SEE PREVIOUS POST: CHERNOBYL 1: 25TH ANNIVERSARY for visualisation of the shelter)


In Ukraine and Belarus, hit hard by the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991, lingering fears about radiation are thought to have contributed to a sense of hopelessness that is linked to high rates of alcoholism and smoking — factors that have a much bigger health impact.
“There’s tremendous uncertainty for these people,” says Elisabeth Cardis, a radiation epidemiologist at the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona, Spain. “Some think they are doomed because of their radiation exposure.”

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