A Potain MD 3200 tower crane is the key lifting apparatus in use for the reinforcement of a collapsing wall at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, in the town of Pripyat, Ukraine.
The special application crane is instrumental in the reinforcement of the existing wall and roof of Nuclear Reactor Number 4, the location of a major accident 20 years ago.
Two large beams have been supporting the roof of the building but are resting on the structurally unsound west wall of Reactor 4. The MD 3200 is lifting steel elements to reinforce the wall.
On-site contractor and owner of the MD 3200 is UTEM, based in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.
The UTEM crane operators are located 328 ft. (100 m) from the reactor and operate the crane by remote control from an anti-radiation shelter.
A number of cameras attached to the crane allow the operators to monitor all lifting operations, while feedback screens show the precise position of the load.
The MD 3200 is able to travel to and from the power plant wall on a 49 ft. (15 m) wide, 328 ft. (100 m) long track.
The MD 3200 can handle a maximum load of 88 tons (80 t) when rigged with six falls of wire rope. It is fitted with 230 ft. (70 m) of jib and can handle 43 tons (39 t) at its jib end. It has a height under hook of 236 ft. (72 m) and is equipped with a 250 LCC 133 hoisting winch.
Gerard Vezant, sales director of special application cranes of MCG, said Potain’s special application cranes were the perfect choice for this sensitive project.
“To operate a tower crane of this size, from a remote location, and on such a sensitive project requires incredibly close control, both on the part of the operator and the crane,” he said. “The planning on this job has been particularly involved, which is understandable given the location. However, the MD 3200, together with the highly skilled team from UTEM, has performed brilliantly. This project is a real showcase for the engineering excellence of Potain and the talents of the UTEM engineers.”
Work began at the plant in June 2006 and will finish in December 2006, but the MD 3200 arrived on site in late 2005 in preparation for the job. The MD 3200 is the first MCG crane the company has bought.
The Chernobyl Power Station is 68 mi. (110 km) north of Kiev. The present concrete containment covering, called a sarcophagus, is not an effective permanent enclosure for the destroyed Reactor 4. Eventually, the plant will be covered with a new sarcophagus.