Reactors, Cranes and Cooling Towers
The next day of our trip began with us making a visit to the incomplete reactor 5 and also one of the associated cooling towers.
At the time of the disaster a further two reactors were under construction, which would have raised the total for the plant to 6 and added an additional 2,000 MW of power output. Reactor 5 was roughly 70% completed having been started in 1981, scheduled to start operating on the 7th November 1986, reactor 6 having a planned completion of 1994.
The night shift construction workers on reactor 5 continued to work during the ensuing disaster at nearby reactor 4. However, this was soon stopped during the following days when the severity of the incident was understood. Construction did resume again later on in October 1986, but was then put on hold again towards the end of April 1987, before a final decision was made not to complete the reactors.
This was certainly one of the highlights of the trips, I'd seen countless photos of the huge cranes towering over the construction site and the vast spaces that were intended to house the necessary components of the power plant, such as the water pumps and the reactor itself. I don't think that many people can say they've stood in what would of been the base of a nuclear reactor. Reactors 5 and 6 were to use cooling towers to condense their steam as opposed to reactors 1 to 4 which utilised the large cooling pond, the cooling towers were only partially completed so it was quite cool to see the scaffolding and ladders used during the construction still clinging on to the concrete structures up above.
On leaving the cooling tower we were greeted by some of the zones wild dogs, who proceeded to follow us around for a little while, but that's for the next post.