Experience: Chernobyl

The accident on April 26 1986 brought the Chernobyl site to the attention of the world. During 1986 and 1987 the scientific and nuclear community of the then Soviet Union struggled firstly to bring the accident under control and then bring the site into a safe state whilst, at the same time, keeping the undamaged units operating. The shelter, built over the damaged unit 4, was designed and constructed in less than 6 months.

In the immediate aftermath of the accident at Chernobyl in 1986, I worked with colleagues in various companies to try and understand what had happened. I analysed photographs sent by the Novosti news agency to try and determine which parts of the reactor had been damaged.

By the mid '90s it was clear that the Shelter was becoming increasingly unstable. The US DoE and the European Commission jointly funded the production of a prioritised plan of actions that would maintain the Shelter in an environmentally safe state for 20 years (the Shelter Implementatoin Plan - SIP). I was involved in an industry consortium bidding for subsequent work. Our consortium won the order for work on emergency systems, management of radioactive dust and water in the Shelter and emergency preparedness.