Chernobyl: The staggering amount it cost to install protective roof over reactor core

The roof has been in construction since 2010, moved into position in 2016 and systems began operation in February this year. The huge structure was placed over the original sarcophagus, which was hastily put together in 1986 after Reactor 4 exploded and released huge amounts of radiation into the atmosphere. The New Safe Confinement (NSC) aims to prevent the release of radioactive material for the next 100 years.

The Shelter Implementation Plan, of which the roof is the main element, has cost around £1.9billion – the roof alone costing around £1.3billion.

The NSC is designed to withstand temperatures ranging from -43C to 45C, a class-three tornado and an earthquake with a magnitude of 6 on the Richter scale.

The first container that encased the offending reactor was assembled in just five months.

But by 1996, the original sarcophagus was damaged beyond repair from prolonged exposure to the radiation.

Rain water was leaking through the roof and came into contact with radioactive material before dripping into the soil, posing a serious threat to the environment.

Radiation levels in the area had risen to 10,000 roentgens per hour – normal levels are around 20-50 roentgens per hour.

The first sarcophagus was meant to last 30 years and repairs and maintenance was carried out until as recently as 2011, but ultimately it was decided that a second sarcophagus would be necessary.

The new roof is 162m long, 257m wide and 108m tall: the arch could house the Statue of Liberty or Notre Dame Cathedral – before the fire.

It was built so large in order to allow for machines to enter and remove the old sarcophagus.

After the nuclear disaster, a 30km exclusion zone was put in place, and 335,000 forced to evacuate – 115,000 from the surrounding area in 1986 and 220,000 more people from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine after the fact.

However, there has still been an increase in the incidence of cancer amongst those living near Chernobyl.

There have even been studies suggesting that the DNA of birds in the area has been altered.

Interest in Chernobyl has skyrocketed in recent weeks due to the HBO historical drama series ‘Chernobyl’.

The programme, available in the UK on Sky Atlantic, shows the events of that fateful day unfold, as well as the attempted cover-up by the Soviet Union.

It has been rated the highest of any programme on IMDB.