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  • Chernobyl New Safe Confinement structure

ArcelorMittal steel at the heart of the Chernobyl New Safe Confinement structure

ArcelorMittal Europe provided steel sheets, panels, subgirts and rebars for the construction of the Chernobyl New Safe Confinement (NSC) structure, made to avoid possible radioactive contamination, 31 years after the accident took place (26 April 1986).

As big as the Statue of Liberty

In 1986, just after the accident, a concrete sarcophagus was built around the blasted reactor of the Ukrainian nuclear power plant to limit the dispersal of the radioactive materials. But for the last few years, cracks have been detected in the sarcophagus. To solve the problem, the Ukrainian authorities commissioned the construction of a giant metal armature in the form of an arch standing on two concrete beams: the New Safe Confinement (NSC). 

The NSC is an impressive structure, it is as tall as a 30-storey building and the arch is even large enough to enclose the Statue of Liberty. For safety reasons, the NSC was not mounted on the reactor itself but was made about 200 metres away. Once built, it was moved through a sophisticated system of tracks, to its final position where it was posed and sealed. Click here to watch the timelapse video of the project.

600 gates produced with an exhaustive control

ArcelorMittal has been involved in this project for many years. Recently, ArcelorMittal Distribution Solutions Processing (Steel Service Centres Spain) provided organic coated steel sheets produced at our Flat Products mill in Legasa to our Spanish customer Padilla Fire Doors for the construction of 600 gates. These gates will be used to create different areas inside the NSC.

Inside this new structure, the installation of gates to isolate each area from the rest is essential in view of the different work to be carried out in each area. It is here that the gates supplied by Padilla Fire Doors play a key role. These mobile partition elements are a weak point in the protective structure and, for that reason, they are subject to the most stringent requirements in terms of quality, installation and maintenance. The 600 gates supplied were manufactured in the Padilla Fire Doors factory in Murcia, with an exhaustive control over the entire manufacturing process. Apart from steel, rock wool and lead were also used for the gates. Rockwool is mainly used as thermal insulation and as passive protection against fire, while lead is applied as a shield against radioactive risk.

A structure made with 164,000 m² of steel profiles and 12,000 tonnes of rebars

During the construction of the NSC, ArcelorMittal Construction Poland supplied via our customer Okyanusgroup, subgirts, stainless steel flat sheets (produced by Aperam) and Floline 40 and Floline 70 curved galvanised steel profiles. The decking built with these profiles support the interior ceiling and the external standing seam-roof. The profiles were made in Poland by ArcelorMittal Construction with steel produced in our Flat mill of Swietochlowice.  Floline is the ideal solution for long span curved roofs. It is pre-curved in the production plant before delivery and it allows to create a much larger span compared to traditional trapezoidal sheet.

ArcelorMittal Kryviy Rih provided 12,000 tonnes of 40 mm rebars for the foundation of the NSC, which support the weight of the entire arch.  Our rebars were chosen due to their special strength and elasticity and their special mechanical properties were particularly important in this case, as the NSC is was built alongside the defunct power station and ‘rolled’ into place above the old reactor.

Overall, the whole structure is designed for a duration of 150 years, with a revision at 100 years. Due to the lifespan of the radioactive materials, this solution is temporary and others will follow until the material is no longer dangerous.

Key facts and figures

  • 25,000 tonnes of metal
  • 108 metres high
  • 162 metres long
  • 257 metres wide

© Dmitry Birin / Shutterstock.com

Watch the stunning drone footage of the Chernobyl sarcophagus boasting ArcelorMittal steel