Welsh firm helps protect the world’s largest moving structure at Chernobyl
Tuesday, Oct 17, 2017
Pontypool-based manufacturer Flamgard Calidair is playing a crucial role in the future of Chernobyl.

The company has developed innovative fire and shut off dampers to the Chernobyl New Safe Confinement, a €1.5bn multinational engineering project, which is due to be installed before Christmas 2017. The Chernobyl New Safe Confinement is a formidable structure – a half cylinder shaped structure that, when completed, be the world’s largest moving building. The unique creation is designed to facilitate monitoring and demolition of the previous containment building following the 1986 disaster while securing the remaining radioactive material. The arched building will simply be rolled into position over the existing site before being sealed up.

Despite the construction of a concrete sarcophagus in the months immediately following the disaster, the site still houses highly radioactive material and attempts to work on its demolition are too challenging. The multinational initiative is an engineering marvel, of which Flamgard’s damper products play a crucial role, and a project which from concept to completion is predicted to take ten years – and to last 100 years.  
 
Flamgard’s managing director Steve Edwards said: “The story of Chernobyl is one of history’s most tragic. But while the neighbouring town of Pripyat is still an unoccupied ghost town exclusion zone, there is some hope for the future of the Chernobyl site with this project.

“In engineering terms, there can be few live projects in the world right now that are as important and as ambitious as the New Safe Confinement.

“It’s not just a shell either, there are entry points, engineering areas and access to the site inside, designed to facilitate monitoring and demolition of the disaster site. This is where Flamgard’s dampers come into play, protecting these rooms and ventilation zones/ducts to minimise the risk of damage should an incident such as a fire or further explosion occur.

“This was a major international contract for Flamgard us and we’ve been exceptionally proud to play our part in it. We are proud to be a Welsh business working on an international level and we continue to reap the benefits of substantial investment into research and development and recognition on a global scale.

“It’s been a real journey to this point and we’ve gained invaluable experience. We went to the Ukraine several to the site and were within 50 meters of Reactor 4 which caused the incident. We developed the product with Swansea University where we explored alternative materials which could endure high temperatures. We began by securing research and development grants through Welsh Government, capital grants for state of the art equipment to aid the manufacturing process. After we secured the contract too, we had support from our bank and UK Export finance to help cover the bonds on the project.

“It’s been a real team effort from Wales, with all of our sixty staff working to help protect the area after one of the world’s largest and most infamous disasters.”

The Welsh Government has provided ongoing innovation support to Flamgard over a number of years, including funding from the European Regional Development Fund, to support the research and development of technically advanced products and for equipment to enable the business to meet the growing global demand for its products.

For more information, please visit:  http://www.flamgard.co.uk/
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