Largest mobile steel structure

Consultancy’s ‘big shield’ to safeguard Chernobyl

New Safe Confinement area

Big shed: the structure protects against radiation


Scottish construction and property consultancy Thomas & Adamson is leading a project to build a giant radiation shield over the infamous Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

The facility in Ukraine was the source of the single biggest nuclear disaster in Europe in 1986 and continues to demand specialist expertise and monitoring to ensure its ongoing safety. 

The shield, known as a New Safe Confinement (NSC), will enable the appropriate conditions to be created for the eventual dismantling and decommissioning of the contaminated Object Shelter, the original Sarcophagus.

Thomas & Adamson, headquartered in Edinburgh, is leading an international team supervising the construction of the NSC, the largest moveable steel structure ever built to create a barrier against release of radioactive substances as well as creating an environment for further works.

Standing at 108 metres high, 162 metres long, 257 metres wide and weighing approximately 36,000 tonnes, the NSC is long enough and high enough to house five Airbus A380s.

These efforts to confine the unstable concrete and steel sarcophagus, constructed quickly after the accident, are paramount to protecting the surrounding area from deadly radiation following the meltdown, which led to many premature deaths, hundreds of thousands of people being resettled and hundreds of billions of euros worth of damage.

Colin Ross, regional director at Thomas & Adamson, who is based in the company’s Kiev office and leading the project, said: We’ve been working at the Chernobyl site for over five years now providing expert support and independent oversight on programming completion of the works, financial management, risk management and quality assurance processes – crucial areas of responsibilities for a project of this size and status.

“With the number of international companies involved in protecting and safeguarding the site, it’s testament to the great team we have in place, our project experience and in-house nuclear expertise that we have been chosen to work on the project.

“As a company that works across a range of sectors – including life sciences and technology – we’re used to working in complex environments, but I don’t think any of us would ever have imagined that our roles as quantity surveyors and the like would have led us to work at the site of Europe’s worst nuclear disaster.”

The site is due to be handed over to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) later this year.

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