The world’s largest movable metal structure has been unveiled as the covering for the destroyed reactor at Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
Big enough to cover Notre Dame Cathedral, the New Safe Confinement is worth $1.7 billion, is 354 feet high, weighs 39,600 tons and is able to withstand a tornado.
The project was partly funded by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) with plans starting back in 1998 and the contract for the structure being put in place in 2007, Metro reported.
Deputy project manager Victor Zalizetskyi, who has worked at the Chernobyl plant since 1987, said he was “filled with pride” that he got to contribute to something “that has such a big importance for all humankind,” according to ITV News.
The Chernobyl nuclear power station was the site of the world’s worst nuclear civilian accident on April 26, 1986, when Reactor 4 exploded, killing at least 30 people.
The exact death toll from radiation is not known but has been calculated by some as being in the thousands. According to the UN, nearly 20,0002 miles of land were contaminated.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said at Wednesday’s ceremony: “Today we get the keys to the construction that was created by joint efforts of dozens of countries to protect the entire planet and humanity from radioactive contamination,” Agence France Press reported.
The unveiling of the dome marks a new era for Chernobyl, with the Ukrainian government investing considerable amounts to make its surroundings attractive to tourists.
Zelensky said: “We will create a green corridor for tourists, Chernobyl is a unique place on the planet where nature [has been] reborn after a huge man-made disaster. We have to show this place to the world: to scientists, ecologists, historians [and] tourists,” the president added.
There has been a spike in interest in the site after the hit TV series which has garnered the highest ratings for an HBO show on IMDB.
To counter the narrative of the series that the accident was caused by shortcomings in the Soviet system, Russia is producing its own version.
Russia’s Culture Ministry has allocated $500,000 in funding for its own production which promotes the idea that Americans had infiltrated the nuclear power plant and that CIA agents may have been responsible, The Moscow Times reported.