The Chernobyl disaster of 1986 will forever be one of those times in history, that when you think of it, you get a shiver down your spine. For the very few people that do not know of the event, the catastrophic incident occurred due to the explosion of a nuclear reactor, which came about as a consequence to flawed design and improper handling of the reactor. The exact number of fatalities as a result of Chernobyl is still unclear due to the long term effects of radiation exposure, although, a United Nations study estimates the final total of premature deaths associated with the disaster will be around 4000, mostly from an estimated 3% increase in cancers which are already common causes of death in the region.
To indicate the magnitude of the event, 30 years after it happened, precautions are still being taken to prevent further casualties. A project begun in 2012 to build the largest ever moveable land-based structure ever built, which will act as a shield for the nuclear reactor and to contain radioactive waste still left by from that horrific incident 30 years ago.
The project to build and position the arch was managed by Novarka, a joint venture between Vinci Grands Projets and Bouygues. It has been financed by €500m from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and a further €800m from more than 50 nation states, as well as the EU. The total cost is estimated to be €1.5bn.
What has been accordingly named as ‘Chernobyl’s New Safe Confinement (NSC) Arch’, is an absolutely colossal structure, it spans 257m, is 162m long, 108m high and weighs 36,000 tonnes. The sliding is being done with help of a “skidding system” that consists of 224 hydraulic jacks that push the arch in 60cm increments. An estimated 40 hours of “skid time” will take place over a period of 5 days. The dimensions of the structure are nothing short of astonishing and it seems rather appropriate to be such, as a prominent reminder of the sheer hell that was unleashed on that unforgettable night in April 1986.