There is no “additional DNA damage” in children born to parents who were exposed to radiation from the Chernobyl explosion before they were conceived. This is according to the first study to screen the genes of children whose parents were enlisted to help in the clean-up after the nuclear accident. Participants, all conceived after the disaster and born between 1987 and 2002, had their whole genomes screened. The study found no mutations that were associated with a parent’s exposure. The findings are published in the journal Science.
BBC 23rd April 2021 read more »
The Scientist 22nd April 2021 read more »
Science 22nd April 2021 read more »
A mothballed nuclear power station surrounded by wasteland, rubble and abandoned buildings is not what most people associate with a UNESCO World Heritage site. But that is exactly what Ukraine has in mind for Chernobyl. Hoping that such an assignation could mean more funding and more tourists, the government has begun a process that could eventually allow it to apply to the United Nations’ cultural, scientific and education body for protection. On April 26, the former Soviet republic marks the 35th anniversary of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, when a reactor at the plant, located some 108 km (67 miles) north of the capital Kyiv, exploded during a botched safety test. The result was the world’s worst nuclear accident that sent clouds of radiation across much of Europe and forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate.
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Emergency repairs in 1998 and 1999 prevented the imminent collapse of the sarcophagus, as well as a vent stack that was endangering the adjacent turbine hall over reactor 3, which was still in operation. It was only at the end of 2000 that all nuclear power generation in Chernobyl ceased. The following year saw a landmark decision to build an arch-shaped steel structure, called the New Safe Confinement (NSC), to seal off reactor 4. In the subsequent years, several tasks were carried out simultaneously. Detailed technical work on the NSC started. The site had to be stabilised and prepared for the construction work. The first project the EBRD managed was the construction of a liquid radioactive waste treatment plant (LRTP) to handle some 35,000 cubic metres of low- and intermediate-level liquid waste at the site. Meanwhile, the safe storage of the spent fuel assemblies from reactors 1, 2 and 3 came into focus. All this has been achieved. The LRTP has been operational since 2014. A new interim storage facility for the treatment and storage of spent fuel has been built and, after successful hot tests, is currently awaiting a permanent licence from the Ukrainian regulator. The NSC, the most visible Chernobyl project, was slid into position in late 2016 and then handed over to the Ukrainian authorities. In total, the Bank has managed close to €2 billion in donor funds through the Chernobyl Shelter Fund and Nuclear Safety Account. Of this, the EBRD provided €715 million of its own resources to complete the Interim Storage Facility and New Safe Confinement. Today, the New Safe Confinement dominates the skyline over Chernobyl, as the sarcophagus once did. The steel structure is 108 metres high and 162 metres long, with a span of 257 metres and a lifetime of at least 100 years. It was assembled in two stages in a cleaned area near the accident site and, despite its size and weight of 36,000 tonnes, was pushed 327 metres into position. It is the largest moveable structure ever built. This is not where the story ends, however. The fact that the NSC has a lifespan of 100 years means that the next phase of work now has to be planned, agreed and implemented. The estimated 200 tonnes of radioactive nuclear fuel inside reactor 4 are now shielded by the New Safe Confinement. However, parts of the sarcophagus are becoming unstable and will have to be removed at some point. Once this is done, work will come closer to the reactor’s interior. The EBRD remains a key partner in these efforts. Following a request by Ukraine, in November 2020, the Bank established the new International Chernobyl Co-Operation Account, aimed at creating an integrated plan for the site to serve as the basis for developing and implementing longer-term projects. The new fund will hold it first assembly meeting on Tuesday – fittingly one day after the 35th anniversary. The Chernobyl story continues.
EBRD 23rd April 2021 read more »