MOSCOW, February 13 (RIA Novosti) – A partial roof collapse at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant reported late on Tuesday does not pose any health hazard, officials from the power station said on Wednesday.
Wall panels and parts of the roof fell in on Tuesday in the machine-hall at the plant’s Reactor Number Four, site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986. The damaged area was about 600 square meters (6,456 square feet), the Ukraine-based plant said in a statement.
No-one was hurt in the incident and the radiation level in the so-called exclusion zone around the plant has not changed, the power station’s management said.
“There is no threat to the lives or health of the population,” Russia’s Emergencies Ministry said early on Wednesday, while confirming the report from the plant
The collapse was caused by snow building up on the roof, the Emergencies Ministry said. The collapse took place in part of the power plant’s original structure and not the so-called “sarcophagus” built after the accident.
The Chernobyl disaster took place on April 26, 1986, when one of its four nuclear reactors exploded. The Soviet leadership was slow to admit the scale of the accident and order an evacuation. Radioactive contamination spread as far as northern Sweden and the UK.
A new “sarcophagus” is currently under construction which will cover the existing one built after the accident, as engineers fear the older shield is likely to soon start crumbling and possibly allow radiation to leak. The new arch-shaped sarcophagus is expected to contain the unit safely for about a hundred years.