Ceram in the News

Ceram was featured on BBC Midlands Today on Thursday 19 April - our testing of materials for the New Safe Confinement for the Chernobyl nuclear reactor was covered by the Staffordshire team.

The programme, including the Ceram feature can be viewed here.

In 1986, an explosion and fire at the Ukraine plant resulted in large volumes of radiation escaping and contaminating extensive parts of the USSR and Europe. Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated and resettled from the worst affected areas, while the catastrophe is expected to lead to thousands of cancer deaths.

Shortly after the accident, a protective shell - or sarcophagus - was built to contain the radiation, but this is starting to deteriorate.

A new sarcophagus, named the New Safe Confinement has been designed and Ceram has been carrying out tests to make sure it will withstand the rigours of the Ukranian climate and contain radiation for a century.

Testing has included dropping 25kg balls of ice on to roof sections and using air bags to simulate tornado-force side winds.

The new structure, which is made of specialist stainless steel, has been in design for the last 10 years, and Ceram has been analysing performance for more than two years.

Ceram chief executive, Tony Kinsella said:

"The implications of the design failing are extremely serious. There are still very high levels of radiation at the plant, and any escapes put people working on remediation projects at risk. It would also harm the surrounding environment further.  We're extremely proud to be involved in such an essential project, and we're also proud that Ceram is helping Stoke-on-Trent become known as a world centre for materials expertise."

The New Safe Confinement, which is on rails so it can slide in and out of position, is due to be completed in 2015.

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