'The sarcophagus that was hurriedly put in place over Chernobyl's Block 4 in 1986 was built in the face of monstrously high levels of radioactivity,' Leonid Bolshov declared at a press conference here this week. 'And it was known at the time that it would have to be improved and reinforced 10 to 15 years down the road.' Bolshov heads the Nuclear Safety Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He said the sarcophagus has long been known to be porous and insufficiently strong.
'The deficiencies have been analyzed by scientists. It is clear that there will be emissions of radioactive dust, but that will not endanger the territory around the nuclear power plant,' Bolshov said. 'It is clear that a second sarcophagus needs to be raised over the ruined energy block.'
He said the work could be done 'a great deal faster if there didn't have to be long negotiations with the world community.' And, he noted, 'this is not a Russian question any longer. It is a problem for an independent Ukraine.' He noted that the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development has earmarked funds for the work, which is expected to be completed in 2008.