Ceram Celebrates as Chernobyl Milestone Reached
Staff at Ceram are celebrating after the first section of a huge structure that will cover the Chernobyl nuclear reactor was raised.
The Staffordshire materials technology company carried out testing on a protective shell - or sarcophagus - being built to contain radiation at the site for another hundred years.
In April 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 sarcophagus was built to contain the radiation, but this is starting to deteriorate.
Last week the first section of the 29,000 tonne, 100-metre-high structure was put in place.
Testing at Ceram's Stoke-on-Trent headquarters was designed to make sure the cladding on the new shell could withstand the rigours of the Ukrainian climate and contain radiation for a century.
Testing included simulating collisions with heavy objects and tornado-force side winds.
The new structure, which is made of specially constructed stainless steel, has been in design for the last 10 years, and Ceram analysed its performance for over two years.
Tony Kinsella, chief executive at Ceram, said: "It's a really proud moment for us.
"Everyone over a certain age can remember the disaster in 1986 - it was terrible. But being involved in a project that protects people and the environment in that region is very satisfying.
"The people of North Staffordshire should also be proud that Stoke-on-Trent is becoming known as a world centre for materials and construction expertise."
The new sarcophagus, which is on rails so it can slide in and out of position, is due to be completed in 2015.