Recently in Sarcophagus Category

Vladimir Shandra, head of Ukraine's Ministry of Emergency Measures, estimates construction costs for Chernobyl's New Safe Confinement structure will be approximately $1.6 billion. Final cost estimates for the project will be determined before the end of 2009.

According to Vince Novak, Director of Nuclear Safety for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Chernobyl Shelter Fund and Nuclear Safety Account combined have enough funds to carry out scheduled activities and projects at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant until 2011.

Novak did acknowledge that the ongoing global economic crisis complicates the search for donor funds to finance the projects. However, he noted that everything will be done to ensure the projects are completed successfully. Shandra indicated Ukraine plans to appropriate future funds to implement ongoing projects at the Chernobyl Plant.

It's nice that Shandra is willing to commit funds to Chernobyl projects, but Ukraine is in such a deep economic mess right now that I have no idea where he plans to find that money.

Also, it should be noted that construction of the New Safe Confinement structure is scheduled for completion in 2012. So, EBRD does not currently have enough money in the funds to finish construction of the new Shelter. If completion is delayed, at least the original Sarcophagus has been stabilized and should be able to remain standing for the foreseeable future.

Chernobyl NPPThe Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Information Department has released a new report about ongoing work at the facility. In addition to general information, the report provides background radiation measurements at several plant locations. The measurements are (in milli-Sieverts per hour):

  • Administration building - 0.41 mSv/hr
  • Visitor Center near the Sarcophagus (object "Shelter") - 6.93 mSv/hr
  • Local areas at the Sarcophagus (object "Shelter") - 40.0 mSv/hr

Photo by: Mond

Video Inside the Chernobyl Sarcophagus

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The following 5:36 video was shot two years ago by Sergeij Koschelew, a video operator for the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Sergeij's duties include documenting the state of the Sarcophagus.

Toward the end of the video you can see daylight coming through holes and cracks in the roof - a prime reason why the New Safe Confinement is being built.

This video originally accompanied a story posted on the German internet site on April 13, 2006:

The following is a rough translation of much of the video's narration. The translation is taken from the person that posted this video on Youtube:

Inside the Sarcophagus the radiation levels are as high as 3400 Roentgen per hour [1 R = 2.58 * 10^-4 C/kg]. The working time of the engineers is determined by the radioactivity they are exposed to. When the dosimeter each of them carries starts to beep alarmingly, they need to leave the reactor immediately.

Sergeij K. who recorded this footage usually stays a little longer. The white dots that can bee seen on the pictures that look like snow are also caused by the radiation which the digital cameras are quite prone to.

The clock in this control room stopped at the exact time the incident took place: 1:23 am, april 26th, 1986

Despite the strongly limited time, work is done without hurry to avoid mistakes. The mounting teams know exactly where the other ones interrupted their repairing right there.

Inside the exploded reactor block, additional staircases were installed to reach most of the locations but this isn't possible. Totally, only one third of the entire reactor block has been explored. The sectors have names and numbers which the workers shout out to one another.

Every now and then men can be heard wading through water. Rain and melting water are the biggest enemy of the Sarcophagus. These caused gradual decay during the past 20 years.

Sergeij likes to compare the inside of the Sarcophagus to a mine field. Each step can decide upon what radiation dose one is exposed to. At this place it is really dirty as can be seen by the black speckles on the yellow gloves.

"Dirty" is what the workers call the radiation reaching extreme levels. The cotton dress and the plastic overall offer only limited protection against (alpha) radiation. The helmets are considered much more important because pieces of stone could fall down from the ceiling. The once molten, highly radioactive material has been cast to bizarre forms. Temperatures exceeded 1000 degrees Celsius at the time of the disaster. Sergeij gave names to these lumps. This one he calls "elephant's foot".

Sergeij is now right underneath the ceiling of the Sarcophagus. It's cracked, corroded and full of holes. it's area measures 100 square meters. The extent can be by the light shining inside.

Should The Sarcophagus one day collapse, a large nuclear dust cloud would be generated. Experts consider it the safest way to build another Sarcophagus around the first, older one. A hall larger than the Statue of Liberty, called "Arche", that would cost
about 650.000.000 Euros.

Here, the white dots caused by radioactivity can be seen again. This sprinklers were installed to bind the floating, radioactive dust particles. At least a little protection in this hazardous job.

Chernobyl Plant Administrators Visit Sarcophagus


Chernobyl Admins Visit Sarcophagus RoofOn June 27, 2008, Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant leadership including General Director Igor Gramotkin, Technical Director Andriy Bilyk, Chief Engineer of the project management group for the planning of Shelter (Sarcophagus) activities Andrei Savin, and Deputy Technical Director for the Sarcophagus Vladimir Kashtanov took a tour of the structure.

During the tour they examined industrial and local zones of the Sarcophagus, the platform under construction for the base of the New Safe Confinement (NSC), light roofing, and workplaces of project personnel.

Gramotkin noted the order and cleanliness at the Sarcophagus site and the cleared platform for the southern base of the NSC.

The leadership discussed current problems and immediate plans for the future, particularly work on the installation of new ventilation stacks (VT) and the dismantling of the current VT of the second turn (reactors 3 and 4). The dismantling of the ventilation stack is stipulated as part of the preliminary work of the NSC construction.

Due to high levels of radiation, the visit to the Sarcophagus roof was short, but the leadership did examine the quality of repair work. Roof workers typically work in pairs for 8-20 minutes at a time. New light roofing sheets are fastened with screws, using stand-alone devices that increase efficiency and reduce personal radiation doses.

Photos: ChAES

Sarcophagus Roof Stabilization Update


The “stabilization” consortium led by joint-stock company Atomstroyexport has completed work on the transfer of load from the roof the Sarcophagus to external support structures.

The transfer of 80% of the roof load above Reactor 4’s destroyed central hall from beams B1 and B2 to the external supports has increased the safety of the Sarcophagus. The work was completed in complex radiation conditions at appropriate levels of safety for the construction personnel, as established by the project contract.

Additional work is expected to begin in the near future.

Chernobyl - Practicing Sarcophagus Roof Repairs


Chernobyl Plant Roofing ProjectAt the Chernobyl Nulcear Plant, personnel of the contractor UTEM recently participated in a two-day training program designed to teach them appropriate skills for repairing part of the Sarcophagus' roof. The training, conducted by Yuri Pasechnikova and Oleg Mihnevicha (from ChAES), involved 20 contractors. The employees were taught how to improve the consistency of fastening the new roofing material and how to use special power tools. Techniques for using personal protective equipment was also discussed.

Physical work on the actual roof is scheduled to begin May 20 and be completed within two months. These roofing repairs are designed to:

  • Reduce the amount of rainfall currently entering the Sarcophagus' interior
  • Decrease the potential outflow of radioactive aerosols into the environment

Photo - courtesy of ChAES

Chernobyl Sarcophagus Reinforcement is Complete


Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station General Director Igor Gramotkin announced on April 23, 2008 that work has been completed on the reinforcement of the original Sarcophagus, which was hastily built following the 1986 accident at the plant's Reactor 4. Gramotkin stated that the structure can now withstand forces from an earthquake registering up to 6.0 on the Richter scale.

New Chernobyl Contract to Clear Area for NSC


Chernobyl contract signingAnother contract was signed on April 3 by the administration of the Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station. This contract with the Ukrainian company Yutem («ЮТЭМ») is to perform additional on site work in preparation for construction of the New Safe Confinement (NSC).  The Chief Engineer of this project (POM) is Andrey Savin.

This aim of this venture is to remove all above-ground structures that currently exist within the area that will be affected by NSC construction. Any foundation structures located at the southern and northern extent of the current Sarcophagus will also be removed. Included in this effort will be the removal of the foundation used for the installation and support of the crane used to build the original Sarcophagus in 1986-1987.

Approximately 30 thousand cubic meters of reinforced concrete are expected to be cleared away. If workers encounter any highly radioactive materials during the course of this work, extraction, transport and disposal will be handled by the appropriate divisions of the Chernobyl AES.

Physical work for clearing the area is scheduled to begin in September 2008, with the digging of NSC foundation areas to start in November. All work under this contract is expected to be complete by the end of 2009.

Photo courtesy of Chernobyl AES

Work Continues on Chernobyl Shelter


According to the Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station's Information Department, by April 25, 2008, 80% of the load carried by beams B1 and B2 in the original Sarcophagus will be transferred to newer external supports. Repairs to the structure's roof are expected to be completed this summer.

Following the completion of the above work, preparations for the physical construction of the base for the New Safe Confinement can begin. Chernobyl Plant Director Igor Gramotkin hopes that work connected with the New Safe Confinement will not only go according to plan, but even proceed ahead of schedule.

The current plan is for physical construction of the New Safe Confinement to begin in April 2009.
Here are two more videos from CBS News covering the 22nd anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster:

Chernobyl's Abandoned City (1:11)

Sealing Chernobyl's Reactor #4 (3:10)