The £2bn dome, which is big enough to cover Notre Dame Cathedral, is 354 feet high, weighs in at 39,600 tons and is strong enough to withstand a tornado. It was unveiled by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as interest in the site continues to surge after a hit HBO TV series. Mr Zelensky told guests at a special ceremony: “Today we get the keys to the construction that was created by joint efforts of dozens of countries to protect the entire planet and humanity from radioactive contamination.”
He said the unveiling of the dome marked a new era for Chernobyl with the Ukrainian government investing considerable amounts to make its surroundings attractive to tourists.
Mr Zelensky said: “We will create a green corridor for tourists, Chernobyl is a unique place on the planet where nature has been reborn after a huge man-made disaster.
“We have to show this place to the world: to scientists, ecologists, historians and tourists.”
The New Safe Confinement project was partly funded by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) with plans starting back in 1998 and the contract for the structure being put in place in 2007.
Deputy project manager Victor Zalizetskyi, who has worked at the Chernobyl plant since 1987, said he was “filled with pride” that he got to contribute to something “that has such a big importance for all humankind”.
The Chernobyl nuclear power station was the site of the world’s worst nuclear civilian accident on April 26, 1986, when Reactor 4 exploded, killing at least 30 people.
The exact death toll from radiation is not known but has been calculated by some as being in the thousands.
According to the UN, nearly 20,0002 square miles of land were contaminated.