Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ukraine Falls Short In Fundraising Effort To Build New Containment System for Chernobyl

The existing containment sarcophagus that surrounded the badly damaged Chernobyl reactor needs to be replaced and the proposed new containment structure is likely to cost more than $1 billion and foreign donors are needed to get this critical structure built.

Despite the critical need, the effort came up short. Only $790 million was raised. With the world's attention focused on the ongoing Japanese nuclear emergency at Fukushima and the crises compared to each other, it's worth remembering just how deadly and dangerous Chernobyl was and that a containment structure is critical to managing future risk from radioactive contamination.

The original Chernobyl sarcophagus was built hastily and water leaks in, posing an ongoing threat to the water table. Equipment is in place to collect and treat the radioactive water, but earthquakes can cause further damage and highly radioactive materials within the sarcophagus could shift or collapse, causing further releases of radioactive particles into the environment. The new containment structure would not only protect the existing sarcophagus, but allow crews the ability to better stabilize and fortify the structures.

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