A 6,500 square foot section of roof on the turbine hall at Chernobyl collapsed last week due to heavy snow. Public relations officials for the reactor called the event “unpleasant” but claimed radiation levels remained the same. While claims of no radiation release seem to be verified by trustworthy sources, this is not the end of the concern for the site of one of the world’s worst nuclear accidents.
In 1986, Chernobyl unit 4 failed catastrophically and released huge amounts of radiation to the surrounding environment. In an attempt to contain what radiation remained, boron and sand were dumped on the melted core and a sarcophagus was hastily constructed and installed. The turbine hall that suffered the recent collapse, served all of the Chernobyl reactors and is near, but not covered by, the current sarcophagus. Although officials claim the sarcophagus was unaffected by the roof collapse, they failed to comment on the structural integrity of the remaining structure or the nearby sarcophagus.
The new 2 billion dollar confinement currently under construction on site will cover the aging, unstable sarcophagus. It is unclear what the roof collapse means for this partially-built structure, meant to last for just 100 years, although officials say this construction was also not affected. Greenpeace has expressed concern that the current sarcophagus could follow the turbine hall and collapse and in book "The Children of Chernobyl" by Adi Roche, she details this risk, given the deteriorating condition of the original sarcophagus. A collapse of part of the structures surrounding Chernobyl Unit 4 is a sign that the deterioration is advancing to an extremely risky condition.