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Hydraulics Showcased in Feat of Engineering

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Considered the world’s largest movable manmade object, the permanent solution to secure Chernobyl has been in the works since 2001; photo courtesy of New Civil Engineer.

The strength of hydraulic jacks was on display in November 2016 when a gigantic hangar-like structure was moved to the site of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Reactor No. 4 disaster in Pripyat, Ukraine. The structure was moved into place over the aging and unstable Soviet Union-built “sarcophagus” using a skidding system that consists of 224 hydraulic jacks that pushed the arch several kilometers, making 60 cm with each stroke. Total skid time was approximately 40 hr. of operation spread over a period of five days.

The “new safe confinement” shell has a span of 257 m, and is 162 m in length and 108 m in height with a total weight of 36,000 mT. Hopes are that it will succeed to protect the surrounding area from the intense radiation the ruptured reactor produces for at least 100 years. The decades of work to secure the site was funded by donations exceeding EUR2 billion (US$2.1 billion) from more than 40 countries and organizations, including the European Union and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

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