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Workers still at risk decades after Chernobyl blast

Workers still at risk decades after Chernobyl blast
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With the memorial ceremonies over for another year, the hard work of building a new permanent shelter to secure the stricken Chernobyl nuclear plant has begun.

After the explosion 26 years ago reactor four was encased in cement at great risk to those who completed the work. Now that is to be replaced with a new sarcophagus, but are things any safer today?

“Because of the construction work they’ve dug down to the level where the nuclear fuel and graphite lay. As a result the level of radioactivity in the air has risen. While the work is going on the level of the radioactivity in the air exceeds the sanitary norm by hundreds, perhaps thousands of times,” warned construction expert Yuri Andreyev.

Once the digging is finished experts say there will be no danger from the dust at the site. But to reassure the builders and technicians there are regular health checks. Each person is monitored and his or her exposure to radiation is controlled.

Euronews reporter Angelina Kariakina said: “The experts believe the encasement doesn’t solve the main Chernobyl problem, that of the nuclear waste inside the demolished reactor. But there is currently no chance of moving it to a safer storage facility.”