Chernobyl plant’s concrete ‘sarcophagus’ to be removed amid collapse fears

The original 'sarcophagus' will be disassembled (Photo by Pyotr Sivkov\TASS via Getty Images)

The Chernobyl disaster is considered the worst nuclear accident in human history - and a relic of the 1986 disaster is to be destroyed amid fears it may collapse.

On April 26, 1986, a systems test at the reactor in the Ukraine led to one reactor at the plant overheating, and a series of disastrous explosions.

A cloud of radioactive dust spilled from the plant, which rained down over countries as far away as Norway and some parts of the UK.

Soviet workers covered the exposed plant with a sarcophagus of 400,000 cubic metres of concrete and 16 million pounds of steel - but it was done quickly, and water got in and corroded some areas.

The Ukrainian company which manages the plant, SSE Chernobyl NPP says it now has a ‘very high’ probability of collapse.

It will now be disassembled, the company announced.

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‘The removal of every element will increase the risk of shelter collapse that in turn will cause the release of large amounts of radioactive materials,’ SSE Chernobyl NPP said in a statement.

No radiation will be released though: the plant is also protected by the New Safe Confinement structure, which was put in place in 2016.

The 32,000-ton shell will protect the site as workers remove all radioactive materials, the company said.

Thirty-one people died at the plant, including firefighters who died of radiation sickness.

The plant itself remained open, and other reactors generated electricity until 2000.

The Zone around the plant plays host to animals including lynxes, wolves, wild boar, elk and otters.

The Zone’s borders have changed in the last 17 years, but it remains empty.

Guests are warned not to eat the fish or mushrooms which grow abundantly in the new wilderness near Kiev in the Ukraine.

Tour guides use Geiger counters to ensure guests don’t soak up too much radiation as they walk through the silent Zone.

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