Chernobyl 'Safe' For Another Century Thanks To World's Largest Moving Structure

Over 30 years after a botched test at the Soviet nuclear plant sent clouds of smoldering nuclear material across large swathes of Europe, the world's largest land-based moving structure has been slid over the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site to prevent deadly radiation spewing from the stricken reactor for the next 100 years.

Rising 360 feet into the air with a span of 850 feet and length of 540 feet, the shield is tall enough to cover the Statue of Liberty and longer than two Boeing 777 jets placed end to end.

As Yahoo reports, a concrete sarcophagus was hastily built over the site of the stricken reactor to contain the worst of the radiation, but a more permanent solution has been in the works since 2001.

Easily visible from kilometers away, the 36,000 tonne 'New Safe Confinement' arch has been slowly pulled over the site over the past four days to create a casement to block radiation and allow the remains of the reactor to be dismantled safely.

On Tuesday, a ceremony was held at Chernobyl to mark this major milestone in the decades of work to secure the site that has been funded by donations amounting to over 2 billion euros ($2.1 billion) from over 40 countries and organizations.

"Let the whole world see today what Ukraine and the world can do when they unite, how we are able to protect the world from nuclear contamination and nuclear threats," Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said.

The structure, which resembles a vast aircraft hangar, has been designed to withstand extreme temperatures, corrosion and tornadoes.

A first for modern engineering, CNN notes that the Chernobyl shield is the largest moveable, land-based structure ever built, according the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which manages funding for the international project.

The arch-shaped steel structure was assembled nearby and moved more than 1,000 feet into position with the help of a special skidding system of hydraulic jacks that pushed the mammoth shield one stroke at a time.

 

"Many people had doubts and didn't believe... However, I congratulate you, dear friends. Yes, we did it," said Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko during a ceremony at Chernobyl commemorating the event.

Chernobyl itself, obviously, remains a ghost town...

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