02a - 2016 New Safe Confienment

I’d always recommend to anyone visiting the zone to read up extensively on the disaster to understand the gravitas of what one is visiting. The wiki entry here is a good starting place: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_disaster#Experiment_and_explosion



This first hit home to me when we were driving to the reactor for the first time and I turned to one of my fellow explorers to ask how he was feeling about the visit: “It’s like visiting a serial killer at the scene of the crime” he replied completely deadpan.

He was right. At the time of writing this building is estimated to have claimed over one million peoples lives.

When people interrogate me as to why there is so much security surrounding the exclusion zone “Just for an abandoned town” it’s not for Pripyat – it’s for this. This crumbling, cracking, makeshift concrete sarcophagus, which is held up partly be friction, and partly just leaning on the original structure contains Chernobyls legacy. 180 Tonnes of highly, highly radioactive lava, formed from the Uranium fuel.

To put this into context, a kilo of uranium holds more energy than 2700 tonnes of coal.





To compare the accidental contamination to Fukushima – So far Fukushima has released 370 PBq. Chernobyl Released 5,200 PBq almost instantly.

During the disaster 5% of the fuel was thrown into the air in a steam explosion, which has contaminated most of Northern Europe indefinitely. 95% of it is still here. In there.

I still find it astounding that I can stand here, a mere 100 meters from it.

Reactor seen from across the cooling pond:




2010 mission with reactor in background:


I've visted it extensively over the last six years with a wide variety of groups.

2010:


2011 Spring:


2011 Summer:


2012:


2014:


And of course my infamous 30th Birthday. We booked every single place available for a trip so we could have the whole city of Pripyat to ourselves. I still cant believe I got Mrs X to come out there! (note my badge! :p)


So it’s on borrowed time. It’s been patched up a few times though...

Here’s a before and after of the when the roof covering was repaired in 2009. (The new roof partially collapsed in 2011 under snow, but to no detriment)






Work on the new safe confinement is now complete. A massive arched structure which they are building several hundred meters away from the plant (safer radiation dose for workers) The plan is to then slide the whole thing over the sarcophagus, (quickly, to limit dosage) at the end. Here’s the plan:


They had on display a table of how much every country has contributed to the new structure:
(What I find odd is Austria have put in 10 million euros, yet their “Effective contribution” is 2 euros less…where did those 2 euros go?!)



Work starts on the first segment of the arch – May 2012



Here it was when I visited one year later:



Right now the sarcophagus is sliding into place, and is the largest moving object on earth.

The iconic chimney that we all associate with the disaster is now gone forever. It's for the best.

One year in one minute (not my vid)
[VIDEO]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vLG6tpIL-g[/VIDEO]
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