This month we will be discussing the Chernobyl New Safe Confinement and what impact the new construction might have on public and scientific opinion of the disaster. Mark Williams introduces the NSC with a short piece on why the arch is necessary.
Many will have seen the time-lapse above and noticed an unusually positive response (for nuclear) to the coverage of the completion of the New Safe Confinement (NSC) at Chernobyl. But to some, it raises a few questions. Why is the new arch necessary? And why now? The NSC is required to replace the original containment, constructed shortly (and I should say rather heroically) after the disaster in 1986. Ukraine has been spear-heading efforts to replace the hastily built sarcophagus since 1992. The final plans were of a British design, and funded by several different countries. The final sliding into place of the new containment arch prevents any further environmental contamination, and comes as a great relief to a concerned international community.
The NSC is intended to assist in the decommissioning of the remainder of the reactor, including the original sarcophagus. To do this, the NSC is equipped with some extremely advanced engineering systems and robotics. However, more work is still underway, including the end walls, which are expected to be completed later this year.
A lot of the excitement around this new ‘feat of engineering’, is just that, a huge and so far successful engineering project, requiring international collaboration. It’s a surprise to me that these sorts of projects ever get completed. Who knows, maybe it’s a sign of a positive move in the right direction, even if the real deconstruction and decommissioning work will span decades into the future, perhaps we can all feel a little more confident about it, knowing it’s properly contained.