Chernobyl Sarcophagus

The Sarcophagus is the massive structure designed by the Soviets to entomb the ruined reactor after the Chernobyl accident. A modern arc has since been added to hermetically seal the decaying Sarcophagus, creating a giant, radioactive nesting egg.

The Chernobyl Complex Expedition

"Inside the Sarcophagus, they were explorers on the frontier of an alien world, where they found gamma radiation fields scaling heights no one had witnessed before and strange new materials forged at temperatures of more than 5,000 degrees centigrade in the crucible of a disintegrating nuclear reactor."

After the accident and initial cleanup and construction, The Chernobyl Complex Expedition, an interdisciplinary team of scientists and construction workers, dedicated themselves to exploring and mapping the Sarcophagus, despite terrible conditions and Radiation. Sounds like RPG #adventures waiting to happen.


  • The expedition was trying to find the missing fuel from the reactor to ensure a new reaction would not begin in the ruins.
  • In 1990 they found most of the melted fuel, which took four different paths through the ruins, and delivered a report "assuring the government commission that the ghost of the reactor was unlikely—“for the time being”—to rise again". Even then, 4 years after the accident, the temperature in some of the fuel was as high as 100 degrees Celsius.
  • They discovered strange new substances like Chernobylite - a deadly blue crystal silicate composed of zirconium and uranium.
  • Radioactive finds could only be examined in short bursts and had to be removed in lead containers.
  • The Sarcophagus was supposed to be impenetrable but the team found gaps and feared the concrete skeleton of Reactor Four might collapse under the weight, bringing the whole structure down.


  • A giant 108m high steel arc, "packed with ventilation and dehumidifying equipment and three times as large as St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome", has since been added to hermetically seal the decaying Sarcophagus.

Further reading

  • First heard about the Sarcophagus and drew most of this info from B-Midnight in Chernobyl.
  • Sich provides a map of the four flow routes: “Chornobyl Accident Revisited,”
  • Documentary footage in Inside Chernobyl’s Sarcophagus, 1991; BBC #toWatch