CHERNOBYL, Ukraine -- A new structure built to confine the Chernobyl reactor at the center of the world's worst nuclear disaster was previewed for the media Tuesday.
Reactor No. 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine exploded and burned April 26, 1986. The complex construction effort to secure the molten reactor's core and 200 tons of highly radioactive material has taken nine years to complete under the auspices of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
The structure itself cost 1.5 billion euros (almost $1.7 billion) and the entire shelter project cost 2.2 billion euros. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development managed a fund with contributions from 45 countries, the European Union and 715 million euros in the bank's own resources.
The shelter is the largest moveable land-based structure ever built, with a span of 257 meters (843 feet) and a total weight of over 36,000 tonnes.
"This was a very long project," said Balthasar Lindauer, director of the bank's Nuclear Safety Department. He noted that preliminary studies began in 1998 and the contract for the structure was placed in 2007.
He said Ukraine was a big contributor, contributing 100 million euros in cash along with expertise and personnel.