New Safe Confinement

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"New Safe Confinement" aka "Arch"

Immediately after the creation of the first shelter over the destroyed reactor, it was clear that the Sarcophagus was not a reliable defense. Due to its low indicators of reliability and fragility of structures, specialists proposed all kinds of options for creating additional protective structures. Back in 1998, as part of the transformation of the Shelter object into an ecologically clean area, they started talking seriously about creating a second shelter. The following tasks were set for the new protective structure:

Provide additional environmental protection against radioactive particles;
To ensure the possibility of dismantling emergency, unreliable structures and highly radioactive waste from the Shelter facility;
Ensure complete isolation of the Shelter object from the influx of rain and melt water.

The international Chernobyl consortium of Washington Group International, INC (USA), BNFL Engineering Ltd (United Kingdom) and Ukrainian organizations - the Kiev Institute of Energoprojekt, the Research Institute of Building Structures and the Institute for Safety Problems of NPPs - conducted a comprehensive analysis of all previous technical solutions, formulated conceptual design criteria and requirements for a new secure confinement.

The confiscation project was financed from the specially created Chernobyl Shelter Fund (PFU), and the funds are managed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

At the stage of the feasibility study, three variants of confiscation were proposed, which had almost the same indicators: Rama, Dock-Qeson and Arch. After an additional and thorough analysis with the participation of independent experts, the third option was preferred - Ark.

On March 12, 2001, the Government Interdepartmental Commission for Solving the Problems of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant adopted a decision on the construction of a confiscation type Arch.
The construction of the NSC (new safe confinement) took place in three stages:

  • Stage 1 - feasibility studies;
  • Stage 2 - the project;
  • Stage 3 - working documentation.


The main structure of the NSC is made in the form of an arch-type steel structure with end walls. An arched structure covers the main part of the Shelter, with the exception of small sections - the deaerator whatnot and the machine room. The geometric dimensions of the shell: - Width (span) 257.44 m, length 150 m, height 108.39 m. The arched structure consists of supporting and protective elements. The main bearing elements are arched type trusses. They consist of a series of internal and external arches interconnected. In the area where crane equipment is located, the arched structure is reinforced with an additional horizontal belt (“tightening”). Protective structures consist of two decks (cladding) - external roofing and internal - metal. The distance between the external and internal flooring is 12 m.

The foundation of the arch structure is designed to absorb vertical and horizontal forces and represents the foundation of deep laying, combined on the surface with a reinforced concrete grillage (a reinforced concrete frame under the supporting walls of the arch structures that stands on columns dug into the ground).

Inside the NSC main structure, it is planned to place the following main production sites: layouts of dismantled structures; primary fragmentation of dismantled structures; temporary storage of radioactive waste in containers.
In the upper part of the arch, in other words, under the ceiling, there are 4 non-standard cranes with a lifting capacity of 40 tons each. With the help of these cranes, work will continue on dismantling the structures of the first Sarcophagus. All dismantling work will be carried out remotely. At the same time, crane operators will be in the technological building.

The technological building itself consists of a main two-story building and annexes. The technological building houses the central and local control panels, ventilation, power supply and fire extinguishing systems, decontamination, secondary fragmentation and packaging sections, a mechanical equipment workshop, a maintenance workshop, a dust control solution preparation section, office rooms, and sanitary locks.

At the time of construction, the Arch was the world's largest arched structure and the heaviest, which was moved from point A to point B. The weight of the structures reaches almost 37 thousand tons. A complex jacking system was used to move the confiscation object to the design position, which was used for the first time on such a scale. The private Dutch company Mammoet (pronounced Mammut), founded in 1971 and specializing in heavy lifting and transporting heavy loads by water and by land, participated in these works.

Interesting Facts:

  • The total construction cost of the New bladeless confinement exceeded 2.15 billion euros.
  • During the construction of the facility, more than 3,000 people took part.
  • The life of the NSC according to all documentation is designed for 100 years.
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