To mark the 26th anniversary of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear plant accident, Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych presided at a ceremony at the site of the ruined nuclear plant in which a new construction project is being launched. The country will build a new protective cover over the plant that when completed will enable the safe dismantling of the destroyed reactors which still contain “hot spots” of radiation contamination.
The new cover will be 108 meters high, 250 meters aide and 150 long. It will involve the use of 20,000 tons of steel and will be a great improvement over the temporary cover that was constructed following the accident.
According to World Nuclear News President Yanukovych hailed the project as: “A historic event in the transformation of the Object Shelter into an ecologically safe system: the construction of the arch of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. This project’s successful implementation will ensure that the surrounding area becomes environmentally safe and that there are no radiation leaks into the atmosphere.”
Up to last year’s meltdown of three Japanese Fukushima nuclear reactors in the aftermath of a 9.1 magnitude earth quake and resulting tsunami, the Chernobyl reactor meltdown had been considered as the world’s worst nuclear accident. Anti-nuclear power advocates, such as Australia’s Dr. Helen Caldicott are still saying that the Fukushima accident was worse than Chernobyl.
What is worrisome regarding the Chernobyl plant is that its status as a symbol of what can happen if a nuclear plant reactor does melt down may become less relevant if the Chernobyl plant is dismantled or even rehabilitated, as may also be the case.
Although some Ukranians have returned to the area where radiation levels are low,other areas, especially the immediate vicinity of the plant itself may never again be suitable for human habitation.
This should be a good warning to countries here in the Middle East like Jordan who want to use nuclear energy to produce electricity. Jordan appears to want to use nuclear energy to “jump forward for energy development” by using atomic energy. Saudi Arabia too.
In the cases of both Chernobyl and Fukushima, nuclear energy is not that safe. Even if only desired for peaceful purposes and not the make weapons, nuclear energy is a very dangerous direction. Chernobyl may finally be rendered safe by the installation of the new canopy, the damage has already been done and will continue to be felt for many years to come.
More on Chernobyl and other nuclear plant disasters:
Jordan Jumps Forward on Energy Development
Dr. Helen Caldicott: Fukushima Nuclear Blast Much Worse Than Chernobyl
Worst Case Scenario Realized as Three Fukushima Reactors Melt Down
Will Nuclear Radiation Vaccine Transform Hazzards of Nuclear into Energy Innovation?