Protecting Chernobyl

UKRAINE will stage an international competition for engineers to ensure the lasting safety of the Chernobyl nuclear plant. It is hoping to lure aid from the Group of Seven (G-7) industrialised countries to safeguard the Chernobyl reactor. Ukraine has three Chernobyl-type plants in its territory. An existing "sarcophagus", containing a fourth reactor, built after the 1986 Chernobyl blow-up, is reportedly leaking and is vulnerable to storms and earthquakes. Inside is a volatile mix of compounds with a temperature of 400 C that some scientists believe could contaminate the surroundings any time.

The winner of the contest has to tackle two problems: make the sarcophagus safe for at least a 100 years and dispose the fuel and debris inside.

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