Chernobyl nuclear power plant is again on the news. On February 12, the ceiling at the turbine room of Generating Unit No. 4 and eight concrete slabs collapsed. The site of the collapse covers the area of 600 square meters, press office of the Chernobyl NPP reported.

The expert commissions that investigated the causes of the collapse came to the conclusion that the accident happened following corrosion processes and rainfall for all the years after the meltdown of 1986.

 The report of the commission says that the incident "did not cause any hazard to health and life, did not create danger to the environment, did not halt work of the facility and is not considered to be an accident." However, experts strongly recommend repairing walls and roof as soon as possible to rule out any possibility of spreading radioactive materials in the environment.

At the same time, Pripet city is still waiting for its turn. Last September, the Emergencies Ministry and the State agency on alienation zone management spoke about a necessity to demolish the city  due to high accident rate of the buildings, but nothing has been done ever since.

Moreover, a number of specialists state that a part of the 30-kilometer-alienation-zone of Chernobyl NPP and Chernobyl city itself can be reclaimed for further use.

What does this new accident mean for the chances of the alienation zone to be reclaimed? ForUm has asked experts:

Artur Denisenko, coordinator of energy projects of the National ecology center:

- Collapse of 600 sq m at the most dangerous object on Earth is unacceptable. It means that other parts of the building, including "Shelter" can start collapsing any time soon. The "Shelter" was built in hurry and without observance of construction norms. After 27 years, it is not as solid as it used to be, and if this construction collapses, the radioactive dust inside the Generating Unit No. 4 may break out poisoning the nearby territories once again.

Yes, we know that there is a new shelter - new safe confinement - being built over the nuclear plant. But the problem is that old constructions decay faster than the new shelter is being built.

Volodymyr Boreiko, director of the Kyiv ecology and culture center of Ukraine:

- Public organizations, which speak about establishing museums in Pripet, should first read the textbooks on chemistry and physics for eight-grade pupils. Then they will learn that the decay period for many radioactive elements like cesium and strontium makes hundred thousand years. It means that in a hundred thousand years, for example, the radiation impact will be only twice weaker. In two hundred thousand years, it will be four times weaker, but the radiation still will be there. In fact, this zone will exist, like, forever, and any discussions about its reclamation are of evil. Radiation is radiation, and it is a real stupidity to thing something can be done in Chernobyl zone. The zone must be left alone. Let the nature rule and heal that place.

Yuri Andriyiv, head of the All-Ukrainian public organization "Chernobyl-Ukraine Union":

- It is obvious that the collapse of the roof and wall panels was caused by the construction of the new confinement, low level of security and poor control over the process. Those French "specialists" were the first to run away when the accident happened. Moreover, French workers get 30 thousand euro, and Ukrainians - only two or three thousand hryvnias. Does it seem equal conditions to you? Besides, the French company banned Ukrainians from forming a trade union in order not to pay compensations for work injuries.

As for the future of the alienation zone, I believe it must be reclaimed within the next ten years. Southeastern part of the zone, including Chernobyl city, should be put in practical use, with certain restrictions of course. I don't see any problems with this. The radiation level there is lower than in Kyiv. Speaking about the plant itself, it is in very poor conditions: there are no facilities for decommissioning of nuclear installations, no nuclear waste storages. The waste is simply stuffed in pools, and there is no approved scheme of maintenance. Chernobyl NPP is a huge promising plant and it is such a shame that it stays dead, at the same time consuming half a billion hryvnias per year. In my opinion, the shutdown of the plant in 2000 was a mistake. We did not receive any financial assistance for decommissioning and made it in hurry. As a result, Ukraine suffered about two billion dollars of losses.  

Oleksandr Syrota, president of interregional public organization "Center":

- Most probably, Pripet will go to ruins. The authorities speak only about demolition. We want to preserve Pripet at least in cyberspace. For this, we are developing a virtual museum for people to see the city in its period of prosperity.

Valery Kalchenko, MP (Batkivshchyna), head of the subcommittee on Chernobyl catastrophe and its consequences:

- People now think that after 26 years and two confinements the things will go back to normal. But, there are many "but". The next stage of works is conservation of the reactor. It will be opened again only in 2065. Then we will have to think about how to minify its radiation. We have similar situation with the alienation zone. Half-life period of certain radioactive materials make more than 300 years, thus all projects on rape cultivation are premature. We must understand that any goods produced on this territory will be contaminated.

In my opinion, for the next 50 years the alienation zone must be left in peace for nature to heal the soil. Moreover, there are many other uncultivated lands in Ukraine. So, why don't we go there instead?


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