The Chernobyl Problem

by Vladimir Novokshchenov, P.E., Consultant; Concrete Clinic Int., Gibsonia, PA,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 2002, Vol. 72, Issue 5, Pg. 74-83

Document Type: Feature article


When the infamous accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant occurred in April 1986�a catastrophe that involved an explosion that blew off the top of one of the plant's four operating reactors and ignited the reactor's core�the resulting clean-up efforts focused on stabilizing the situation more than making sure that the shelter erected to stabilize the site was structurally sound. In 1996 a European team of experts analyzed the results of previous studies and concluded that the shelter needed immediate attention. The shelter's poor condition was a result of localized damage, overloading, large displacements, and deviations from the relevant construction codes during its construction. A collapse with dangerous consequence was seen as probable within a short time period. One solution is an arch confinement that would enclose the shelter and the plant's northern cascade wall and turbine hall. It would comprise an 80-m high arch cover having a span 260 m, along with western and eastern walls and foundations. The arch would consist of several segments, each a steel structure consisting of two internal and four external arches interconnected by tubular elements. The arch cover would rest on northern and southern foundations, each a cast-in-place slab of reinforced concrete supported by short piles.

Subject Headings: Arches | Protective structures | Power plants | Walls | Steel structures | Reinforced concrete | Pile foundations

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