Pictured: the 4th block of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Photography: Petr Pavlicek/IAEA

Chernobyl power plant’s nuclear ‘sarcophagus’ – a steel and concrete containment shell constructed immediately after the disaster in 1986 – is being carefully dismantled in Ukraine.

According to Popular Mechanics, the structure, which was designed to keep the reactor’s radioactive materials bottled up following the 26 April accident, is at risk of collapsing in on itself and a new shelter is needed.

Preparatory steps for mounting the sarcophagus in 1986. Photography: IAEA

Chernobyl’s hastily erected sarcophagus was built in just 206 days, using 400,000 cubic metres of concrete and 16 million lbs of steel.

It will be replaced in parts by a new €1.5 billion shelter, which is said to be the largest work of moveable architecture in the world and is being internationally funded. The New Shelter Containment (NSC) has been under construction for several years and is expected to be fully operational by 2023.

The arched NSC structure is 165 metres wide and will last up to a century.

sarcophagus infographic

[h/t Popular Mechanics, Archinect]

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