The protagonist in my debut thriller – The Chemical Detective – uses the cranes of the New Safe Confinement project as waymarks to guide her to safety.
I have been fascinated by the project for many years, checking the web cams for progress, watching the time lapse photography as it glided (or stuttered) into place.
It is the most extraordinary achievement. The largest mobile structure ever built, big enough to cover St Paul’s cathedral and the Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge, it was constructed at a safe distance and conveyed over rails until it covered the stricken reactor and its crumbling sarcophagus. Funded by the European construction bank, the whole Chernobyl Shelter project cost a staggering 3 billion euros.
Inside the stainless steel arch are cranes that can be remotely operated to sort the contaminated debris and collect the remaining nuclear fuel. By the time the shelter comes to the end of its predicted 100 year life, the fragmented reactor underneath should be dismantled and made safe.