Chernobyl: Ook dat nog
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Science - Reuters
Russian Minister Fears Collapse of Chernobyl Shield
Tue Apr 22,11:04 AM ET
By Oliver Bullough
MOSCOW (Reuters) - The concrete shield thrown up to block radiation escaping the Chernobyl nuclear power station after it exploded in 1986 is collapsing and needs urgent reinforcement, Russia's atomic energy minister said Tuesday.
Alexander Rumyantsev was speaking at a news conference almost exactly 17 years after one of Chernobyl's four reactors exploded and spewed clouds of radioactivity over much of Europe in the world's worst civilian nuclear disaster.
"We can see a situation where the roof could fall in, or rather the supports that hold up the roof could fall down," he said, adding that the concrete itself was leaking radiation.
"There are a lot of holes in the sarcophagus," he said.
He said workers from his ministry involved in monitoring the reactor in ex-Soviet Ukraine kept him informed.
"I know how the sarcophagus was built. It was built in difficult radioactive conditions for the builders. They had to work fast to get away from the danger," he said.
"We need to surround it with another sarcophagus."
The Chernobyl disaster killed about 30 firefighters in the immediate aftermath, and many of the people involved in the clean-up died in the next weeks.
Rumyantsev said a collapse of the Soviet-era sarcophagus, dramatic as it may be, would have much more limited consequences than the original disaster.
"There is a strong chance it could happen, but it would not be such a catastrophe, it would be more of a local affair," he said. "It would be bad for Ukraine."
Rumyantsev, a staunch believer in the future of nuclear energy, said that despite the shock experienced by the public in 1986, estimates of the number of victims were often exaggerated.
Environmentalists and doctors in Ukraine say there have been thousands of deaths from radiation-related illnesses and a huge increase in thyroid cancer following the accident.
"Say there were 200 deaths ... an accident in a chemical factory would be more horrible judging by the number of victims. It was about as deadly as a plane crash -- Concorde, say," Rumyantsev said, referring to a supersonic jet which crashed in Paris nearly three years ago.
"When Greenpeace or other ecologists talk about a million victims, I am prepared to agree that a million people were scared. That was the main medical result of the disaster."
Hot Testing Starts at Chernobyl Spent-Fuel Storage
Hot testing has started at the Interim Storage Facility 2 in Chernobyl where the spent nuclear fuels from reactors 1, 2 and 3 will be processed and stored in the world’s largest nuclear dry storage once full operations have started. The start of hot testing was approved by the Ukrainian regulator following the successful completion of previous system-wide trials of the facility, constructed by an international consortium led by the US company and financed by the international community through the Nuclear Safety Account, managed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
The safe and secure processing and storage of the spent nuclear fuels at Chernobyl is one of the key remaining tasks at the site. While the 1986 accident destroyed reactor 4, the more than 21,000 fuel assemblies used in the-type reactors 1, 2 and 3 were removed in the following years and provisionally stored in a wet pond facility.
The new will replace the current site storage arrangements, providing safe storage for a minimum of 100 years. A purpose-built special train will transport the spent nuclear fuel assemblies to the facility where they will be cut, dried and packaged into double-walled canisters in the specially designed processing facility and – finally – transferred to the newly constructed onsite storage modules.
A total of 232 double-walled canisters will be safely stored, and monitored, for a minimum of 100 years in the individual concrete modules.
The Interim Storage Facility-2 cost EUR 400 million and was financed with contributions by Belgium, Canada, Denmark, the European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The manages the international donor community’s funds to transform Chernobyl into a safe and secure environment and has also made financial contributions to this effort.
Source : STRATEGIC RESEARCH INSTITUTE
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