RESTON, Va., Nov. 29, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Bechtel, the global engineering, construction, and project management firm, today congratulated an international team for completing a historic milestone at the site of the Chornobyl nuclear plant: the successful sliding of a massive containment arch that now covers the plant's damaged reactor. Bechtel led the consortium that designed the massive arch on rails to be built in segments, joined together, and slid over the reactor. With end walls added to both sides, the arch will keep the radioactive contamination contained while keeping rain, wind, and other weather out.
The arch is the largest movable structure on land - massive enough to cover several Statues of Liberty or the entire Cathedral of Notre Dame. The sliding was completed earlier this week, with more than 200 jacks pushing the arch along the rails and into place, about 30 inches at a time. "This achievement is the result of great teamwork and creativity," said Oscar "Mac" McNeil, Bechtel's project manager at the Chornobyl site. "No one has ever put a giant structure over a damaged nuclear reactor. The team of Ukrainians, Americans, French, British, Georgian, and Czech nationals has made history together, adding another chapter to an event that affected so many lives." Chornobyl's reactor No. 4 melted down in 1986. A concrete covering hastily built over the reactor has developed cracks and become unstable, prompting the need for a longer-term solution. Today, Bechtel's role, under contract to the State Specialized Enterprise - Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant, is to ensure that engineering and construction meet the plant's strict quality requirements. Also playing key roles on the team are the French construction consortium Novarka and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which has financed the project along with 40 donor nations.