Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Chornobyl roof collapse poses no danger: officials

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KYIV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian officials on Wednesday sought to reassure the public radiation levels were unaffected at Chornobyl and there was no safety threat after a partial roof collapse at the exploded nuclear power plant.

A 600-square-metre section of the roof over the turbine hall at the fourth power block collapsed Tuesday, Chornobyl plant spokeswoman Maya Rudenko told The Associated Press. The collapse was caused by heavy snowfall, emergency authorities said.

Rudenko said the affected area is about 50 metres away from the "sarcophagus," a shelter built shortly after the 1986 disaster to contain radiation emanating from the exploded reactor. Rudenko said the radiation levels were normal and there was no danger to the public.

"Everybody should be absolutely calm," Rudenko said.

"Yes, it is unpleasant, but there is no danger."

The April 26, 1986, accident in the then-Soviet republic of Ukraine sent a cloud of radioactive fallout over much of Europe and forced the evacuation of about 115,000 people from the plant's vicinity. A 30-kilometre area directly around the plant remains largely off-limits.

A new giant arch-shaped confinement is currently being constructed over the old sarcophagus.

The construction of the new shelter was not affected by the accident, said Anton Usov, spokesman for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which runs the $2-billion project co-sponsored by the bank and international donors.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 14, 2013 A13

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