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Chernobyl nuclear reactor exploded 30 years ago

April 26, 2016 - UKRAINE

The massive arched roof to make Chernobyl safe for a century should have been ready before events marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear disaster, but a funding shortfall means no ribbon-cutting until the following year.

Completing the 31,000-ton protective steel arch - 328 feet high, 541 feet long, with a span of 853 feet - has proved more expensive than anticipated.

When finished, the so-called New Safe Confinement, whose construction began in 2010, will be slid across Teflon pads to entomb the burned out reactor.

At 1:23 am on Apr 26, 1986, Reactor Four at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded, releasing more than a hundred times the radiation of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Thirty-one people died shortly after the explosion and thousands more are expected to die from the long-term effects of radiation.

A makeshift sarcophagus built in the explosion's aftermath was supposed to protect the environment from radiation for at least 30 years, but it has developed cracks.

The total cost of the Shelter Implementation Plan is estimated at €2.15 billion (US $2.39 billion), more than double the original estimate, according to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The bank is managing the Chernobyl decommissioning funds. As of Mar 2015, there was a €100 million (US $111 million) funding gap. Over 40 governments and the European Commission have committed to contribute to the fund, according to the EBRD, which plans to widen its net to make up the shortfall.

Chernobyl New Safe Confinement enters final stage of construction (16 Mar 2015)

Chernobyl arch won't be completed by 30th anniversary of the catastrophe (Guardian 24 Apr 2015)

Chernobyl: Capping a Catastrophe (NYT April 27, 2014)

Chernobyl anniversary: how the disaster unfolded (Telegraph 26 Apr 2011)

Date written/update: 2015-08-19