Canadian Consulting Engineer

Massive structure being built to contain Chernobyl dismantling

September 9, 2015

Containment structure being built at Chernobyl. Image: Novarka.

Containment structure being built at Chernobyl. Image: Novarka.

A huge new structure is being constructed over the Chernobyl nuclear reactor that exploded in the Ukraine in 1986.

The Novarka consortium made up of Vinci and Bouygues Construction has designed and constructed two twin arches that will cover the reactor as it is dismantled.

The structure is 110 metres high and 260 metres wide, and weighs 30,000 tonnes, five times the weight of the Eiffel Tower. It consists of two semi-arches that were joined together over a day in a delicate operation that needed millimetre-accuracy.

The casement will have an innovative ventilation system to stop the structure eroding over a 100-year lifespan. It also contains an operations office and automated cranes and other equipment for dismantling the plant.


Bechtel and Battelle as project managers, working with the state-owned ChNPP organization that is responsible for cleaning up the site.

The Chernobyl disaster was the worst nuclear power plant accident in history in terms of cost and casualties. Chernobyl and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011 are the only two classified as a level 7 event (the maximum classification) on the International Nuclear Event Scale.

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