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Chernobyl: 30 Years On –

Reactor No. 4

After visiting the kindergarten at Chernobyl, we travelled on to Reactor No. 4, which exploded during the accident. Many firemen were sent to their deaths trying to contain the fire – their radiation exposure was so massive that many of them died within 14 days, the maximum time humans tend to live following a serious overdose of radiation.

The concrete case which currently covers the exposed reactor core was expected to last for 30 years. At the point of our visit, the concrete case was 29 years and 9 months old.

A massive new sarcophagus is being built to cover the old concrete case. It is too dangerous for workers to build it directly over the existing case, so it is being constructed on rail tracks and will be slid into place once it’s ready. It was due to be finished by now but is running behind schedule and it is hoped it will be in place by 2017.

The new sarcophagus has been designed to last 100 years. Our guide told us that the half-life of the plutonium in Reactor No. 4 is 25,000 years…


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