30 Years after Disaster, Chernobyl gets New Containment Shield

So how do engineers deal with the fallout of these nuclear meltdowns? Engineering innovation is now being used to control an engineering crisis. After a hastily built sarcophagus was built to contain the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, a new method of containing the radioactive material is being implemented. A giant shield is being placed over the aged reactor, where the disaster took place. The shield was designed to put a cap on the amount radioactive material that is leaking out. Humans are still not able to populate the town due to the amount of radioactivity that is still prevalent in the air. The shield measures 900 feet wide (275m) and 354 feet (108m) tall. The shield cost $1.6 billion to build. It has been given the name: the New Safe Confinement (NSC). 

Engineers are installing the shield via hydraulic machinery that will move it into place. Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine Ostap Semerak said: “The credit for construction of this one-of-a-kind technological structure goes to an expert team of engineers and builders.” He also said that construction of the shield and its final implementation was a “historic step” for the infamous reactor. The shield was commissioned after doubts were cast at the concrete enclosure the reactor has been encased in. Critics have said that if the concrete sarcophagus were to decay and collapse around the reactor, more radioactive material would be released. Therefore, the New Safe Confinement was designed and constructed. It was funded by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (ERBD). 

The fact that more than 40 contributing countries and donor countries united around the goal of protecting humanity from the radioactive consequences of the tragedy is another demonstration that environmental safety remains a priority for global policymakers,” Semerak concluded. 

By November 29th the shield is expected to be fully installed, in what the ERBD is calling one of the most ambitious projects in the “history of engineering”. The shield had to be built in two parts and then joined together. This meant the construction has taken quite some time - they have been building it since 2012. The two halves were joined together in 2015 and prepped for the installation. The EBRD say that the confinement shield has a lifespan of at least 100 years