Ukraine: Structure Collapses in Chernobyl

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Part of a structure next to the damaged nuclear reactor at Ukraine's Chernobyl power plant has collapsed, the authorities said on Wednesday (February 13), adding there were no injuries or any increase in radiation levels.

The Emergencies Ministry said the collapse on Tuesday (February 12) was not of the sarcophagus covering the reactor, but part of the wall and roof of a turbine hall that caved in under the weight of snow.

Later on Wednesday the plant officials said the collapse could not be caused by snow.

"It was not even because of snow. The collapse was caused not by snow - it happened in junction points of old construction details. The commission has been formed now and we'll investigate thoroughly. There was no snow cover there on the roof. No snow," Chernobyl nuclear plant director Igor Gramotkin said.

The power plant - which stopped running its reactors in 2000 - was the site of the worst nuclear power disaster in history in April 1986 when one of its reactors exploded during a safety experiment, sending out a plume of highly radioactive fallout.

Large areas of Ukraine and neighboring Belarus were contaminated.

Ukraine is now building a new structure around the old sarcophagus aimed at preventing leaks from the hastily built and aging shelter.

French construction groups Vinci and Bouygues, who are building the 33,000 ton confinement shelter under a joint venture called Novarka, said they had evacuated the roughly 80 workers at the construction site as a precaution.

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