Ukraine: Chernobyl Reactor’s Radioactive Dust Shelter Officially Opened

PRIPYAT, UKRAINE - JULY 2: The 'New Safe Confinement' at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant on July 2, 2019 in Pripyat, Ukraine. In November 2016, the 'New Safe Confinement' structure was shifted into place to prevent the decaying reactor from further contaminating the environment and eventually allow its dismantling; the Ukrainian government will soon be taking control of the new confinement structure. The power station's reactor number four exploded in April 1986, showering radiation over the local area, nearby regions of Belarus, and other portions of Europe. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — A structure built to confine radioactive dust from the nuclear reactor at the center of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster is up and running.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy formally opened the “new safe confinement” shelter that spans the remains of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant’s Reactor No. 4.

The structure cost 2.2 billion euros (about $2.5 billion) and took nine years to complete. Officials have described it as the largest moveable land-based structure ever built.

Reactor No. 4 at the Chernobyl plant in Soviet Ukraine exploded and burned on April 26, 1986. The disaster’s eventual death toll is subject to speculation and dispute.

The World Health Organization’s cancer research arm estimates that 9,000 people will die of Chernobyl-related cancer and leukemia if the health effects follow a similar pattern to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings.

The official Russian death toll from the accident is 31.

Interest in Chernobyl has boomed lately with the release of the HBO miniseries “Chernobyl,” which told the story of the aftermath and investigation into the 1986 explosion. Several tourist groups lead tours of Chernobyl and nearby Pripyat, the city built for the plant’s thousands of workers that was evacuated and abandoned after the explosion.

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