An Omaha nuclear engineer working on the capping of the infamous Chernobyl power plant says a partial roof collapse from heavy snow this week could pose a safety threat if it leads to more collapses.
David Kunsemiller e-mailed from Kiev that Ukrainian officials are correct in saying there is no immediate danger, and that no release of radioactive dust was detected.
“That said,” he wrote, “the building structure poses both a risk to personnel who occasionally must enter the area for walk-thru inspections and a radiological risk if more of the roof or walls were to collapse.”
David and his wife Patty (Thurmond) Kunsemiller, an Omaha real estate agent, moved to Kiev in 2011 when he accepted a job to help make Chernobyl safe. He has visited the plant site, but mainly works in Kiev, 60 miles away, watching activity at the plant on TV monitors.
Workers are building a huge containment structure, 30 stories high, that will slide over the deteriorating “sarcophagus” that was hastily built over the damaged reactor within six months of the April 26, 1986, disaster.
The roof collapse is about 165 feet from the sarcophagus. As a precaution, the Associated Press reported, 80 workers were evacuated. A 19-mile area around the plant remains largely off-limits.