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Bouygues and Vinci complete slide of Chernobyl arch

30 Nov 16 The largest moveable land-based structure ever built has been slid into its final resting place at the Chernobyl power plant, where it will enclose the radioactive remains of the nuclear disaster.

Chernobyl’s giant New Safe Confinement (NSC) has a span of 257 metres, a length of 162 metres, a height of 108 metres and a total weight of 36,000 tonnes equipped. It encloses the radioactive remains of reactor 4, which was destroyed in the 1986 disaster.

The arch was moved by Dutch specialist Mammoet over a distance of 327 metres from its assembly point to its final resting place, completely enclosing a previous makeshift shelter that was hastily assembled immediately after the 1986 accident. The structure has been built by Novarka, a consortium of the Vinci Construction and Bouygues Construction.

It will make the accident site safe and has a lifetime of 100 years to allow for the eventual dismantling of the site’s ageing makeshift shelter and the management of the radioactive waste.

A ceremony in Chernobyl yesterday marked the successful conclusion of the sliding operation, which is a key milestone in the international programme to transform Chernobyl into an environmentally safe and secure state by November next year.

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Equipment in the NSC will now be connected to a new building that will serve as a control room for future operations. The NSC will be sealed off from the environment hermetically. Finally, after intensive testing of all equipment and commissioning, handover to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant administration is expected in November 2017. The €1.5bn NSC is the most prominent element of the Shelter Implementation Plan for Chernobyl, which has involved more than 300 projects and activities.

Sir Suma Chakrabarti, the president of the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development (EBRD), said: “We applaud our Ukrainian partners and the contractor and we thank all donors to the Chernobyl Shelter Fund whose contributions have made today’s success possible.”

Novarka project director Nicolas Caille said: “We are very proud to have been able to actively contribute to meeting this one-of-a-kind technological challenge. The New Safe Confinement in Chernobyl is a feat of engineering that will ensure optimal safety conditions for the Ukrainian people for the next 100 years.”

Igor Gramotkin, director-general of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, said: “We were not building this arch for ourselves. We were building it for our children, for our grandchildren and for our great-grandchildren. This is our contribution to the future, in line with our responsibility for those who will come after us.”

The €2.1bn overall programme is financed by the Chernobyl Shelter Fund. Established in 1997, the Fund has received more than €1.5bn from 45 donors to date. The EBRD manages the Fund and is the largest contributor to the project.

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