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Journalists in front of the new sarcophagus on Nov. 29
Journalists in front of the new sarcophagus on Nov. 29
Bertrand Hauger

It was the worst nuclear plant accident in history, measured in both casualties and cost. And though the death count paled in comparison to the more than 100,000 killed by the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, the amount of radioactive material released in Chernobyl was 400 times higher.


Six months after the 1986 disaster, the Soviet Union hastily covered the damaged reactor 4 with a massive sarcophagus of metal and concrete. Only expected to last 20 years, the structure has shown many signs of aging in the past decade, including a leaky roof that led to corrosion. Now, 30 years later, its French-built replacement structure has been put into place, and will be inaugurated today in a ceremony attended by some 500 people, Paris-based daily Les Echos reports.


Since 2012, French consortium Novarka has been constructing a new arched structure that has been sliding into place over the site. Designed to seal the reactor complex, keeping it environmentally secure for an estimated 100 years, the 25,000-ton steel framework of the shelter is the largest mobile land structure in the world.


The shelter, which cost more than two billion euros and was largely funded by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, will allow the partial demolition of the original sarcophagus and the reactor, at some point in the future. Beyond just the heavy lifting, the work on the most contaminated areas of the site will be carried out by robots.

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Coronavirus

Will China's Zero COVID Ever End?

Too much has been put in to the state-sponsored truth that minimal spread of the virus is the at-all-cost objective. But if the Chinese economy continues to suffer, Xi Jinping may have no choice but to second guess himself.

COVID testing in Guiyang, China

Cfoto/DDP via ZUMA
Deng Yuwen

The tragic bus accident in Guiyang last month — in which 27 people being sent to quarantine were killed — was one of the worst examples of collateral damage since the COVID-19 pandemic began in China nearly three years ago. While the crash can ultimately be traced back to bad government policy, the local authorities did not register it as a Zero COVID related casualty. It was, for them, a simple traffic accident.

The officials in the southern Chinese province of Guizhou, of course, had no alternative. Drawing a link between the deadly crash and the strict policy of Zero COVID, touted by President Xi Jinping, would have revealed the absurdity of the government's choices.

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