April 27, 2012

Construction Begins on New Chernobyl Containment

[5/11/12 UPDATE: the National Radio Company of Ukraine announces that the Chernobyl shelter will be dismantled before 2022 (via NCRU)]

On the 26th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, construction began on the long-awaited secondary containment shelter - or "Ukritye" - that will surround the site's crumbling concrete "sarcophagus." From AFP on YouTube:

The Shelter Implementation Plan (SIP) proposed over a decade ago by a multinational consortium languished for years due to a lack of funding; recent major donations have prompted ground-breaking on the project that eventually will cost nearly $1B. From Neue Deutsche Welle:
Construction on the so-called New Safe Confinement is slated to finish in 2015 and the new shelter will allow experts to dismantle the reactor and clean up the radioactive waste still present. On April 26, 1986, an explosion at the nuclear reactor spewed radiation that winds carried over much of the northern hemisphere with Belarus, Ukraine and Russia bearing the brunt of the fallout. A so-called "sarcophagus" was built over the reactor, however, it has leaked radiation in recent years. Donors pledged 740 million euros ($980 million) to build the new, permanent containment barrier and a nuclear fuel waste facility.
A new web resource on the Chernobyl disaster that purports to "[Publish] independent scientifically validated information about the consequences of Chernobyl disaster" can be found at the European Center of Technological Safety (TESEC):
This accident has been used, and is still used, as one of the key element of public mistrust "vis a vis" both the political and the scientific communities. The scale of the material losses and the financial cost of mitigating the consequences of the Chernobyl accident provide compelling evidence of the extremely high price of errors and shortcomings when ensuring the safety of nuclear power plants and of the need for strict compliance with international safety requirements during their design, construction and operation. The accident has convincingly demonstrated that the cost of ensuring the safety of nuclear facilities is significantly lower than that of dealing with accident consequences. Large-scale man-made accidents cause great social and economic damage to countries located in their area of influence. In the spirit of UN Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention) it has been decided to develop and deploy a international scientific network for dissemination and publishing in web site scientifically validated information about the consequences of Chernobyl disaster. The Aarhus Convention was negotiated by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe as part of its pan-European environmental legal framework. It is generally intended to lift the veil of environmental secrecy and strengthen citizens' environmental rights. The Aarhus Convention aims to ensure that the public has access to this type of information and to prevent Governments from covering up environmental disasters. Web site is address to various categories of targets (public of different levels of education, decision-makers, scientists, associations, governmental authorities and concerned international organizations, etc.).

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