War in Ukraine: radioactive danger in Chernobyl?



by LORENZO CIOTTI

War in Ukraine: radioactive danger in Chernobyl?

The area around Chernobyl was closed after the 1986 nuclear accident and is one of the most radioactive places in the world. Two explosions at the plant blew up the 1,800-tonne roof, resulting in a fallout of radioactive material over an area of ​​2,600 square km.

The area was considered uninhabitable by man for the next 24,000 years. As reported by Focus Italy, nuclear engineering expert Bruno Merk, of the University of Liverpool said the risk of radioactive nuclear material being dispersed from storage due to the conflict is low: "I think as long as there is no deliberate attack , the risk is limited.

but if there was a deliberate act, things could be different. I think as long as there is no deliberate attack , the risk is limited. but if there was a deliberate act, things could be different." Recall that the Russian army occupied the entire Chernobyl area.

Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said to Reuter: "It is impossible to say that the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is safe after a totally useless attack by the Russians. This is one of the most serious threats in Europe today." The reactor number 4 of the Chernobyl plant and its immediate vicinity have been enveloped, since 2019, by the New Safe Confinement, in order to contain the radiation emitted by the material of the plant and the reactor core.

A radioactive waste storage facility is being built near Chernobyl, manufactured by Nukem Technologies. It is not clear what the current state of play is. The New Safe Confinement was built 180 meters from the reactor and is the largest mobile land structure ever built in the world.

The sarcophagus was designed to last a hundred years and to withstand temperatures from -43 to +45 ° C and force 3 tornadoes, with winds of over 300 km per hour. The republics of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia are still burdened by the high costs of decontamination and the populations of the contaminated areas are suffering the effects of the accident.

The first sarcophagus was not a permanent and lasting container for the destroyed reactor due to its hasty construction, often carried out remotely using industrial robots. The original project had considered a maximum life span of the sarcophagus of 30 years, as it was intended only as a temporary emergency measure to allow time to build a permanent structure.

Although renovations and consolidations were periodically carried out, the building was aging. The presence of cracks in the structure was accelerating its deterioration allowing the infiltration of water. Furthermore, the building was not built on solid foundations, so it still slowly sinks into the ground and deforms.