Chernobyl’s New Safe Confinement (NSC) was been slid into place on 29 November, completely enclosing the previous shelter that was hastily assembled immediately after the 1986 accident. The €1.5bn ($1.58bn) NSC is the largest moveable land-based structure ever built, with a span of 257 metres. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said this marked a key milestone in the international programme to transform Chernobyl into an environmentally safe and secure state by November 2017. The EBRD manages the Chernobyl Shelter Fund and is the largest contributor to the NSC project.
The NSC was moved 327 metres from its assembly point, and now safely encloses the radioactive debris of the power plant’s destroyed reactor 4. It will now be connected to the new technological building, which will serve as a control room for future operations inside the arch. The NSC will be hermetically sealed from the environment. Following intensive testing of all equipment and commissioning, the NSC is expected to be handed over to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant administration in November 2017. The EBRD said the NSC will make the accident site safe and with a lifetime of 100 years and will allow for the eventual dismantling of the original shelter and the management of the radioactive waste.
The structure was built by Novarka, a consortium of the French construction firms Vinci Construction and Bouygues Construction. Work started in 2010. The NSC is the key element of the Chernobyl Shelter Implementation Plan, which involved more than 300 projects and activities. The €2.1bn programme is financed by the Chernobyl Shelter Fund, established in 1997, which has received more than €1.5bn from 45 donors.
The steel frame weighs 25,000t and the total weight of the structure is 31,000t. The arch rests on two concrete beams with hot-air ventilation between inner and outer cover layers. It now encloses 200t of nuclear fuel, 43,000 cu.m. of highly radioactive materials, 630,000 cu.m. of radioactive materials, and 4t of radioactive dust. It can withstand a plane crash, a class 3 tornado, a magnitude 6 earthquake on the MSK-64 scale (about 5 on the Richter scale), and temperatures from -43C to +45C.