Washington state workers helping secure Russia's Chernobyl

Twenty-five years after one of four nuclear power plants at Chernobyl exploded, employees of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are working to reduce the dangers remaining from the accident.

Battelle, which operates the Department of Energy national lab in Richland, helped develop the 1997 Shelter Implementation Plan, a step-by-step approach to solve the technical problems left by the meltdown of the reactor core on April 26, 1986, and convert Chernobyl into a safe and secure site.

Now it has employees assigned to the responsible execution of the plan, which includes building a massive new structure to cover the open reactor for the next 100 years. Six PNNL employees are living in the Ukraine, bringing expertise as engineers, safety professionals and contract specialists to the project.

"We stand on the shoulders of giants," said Eric Schmieman, a PNNL senior technical adviser at Chernobyl. The people who came before them on the Chernobyl project include many who gave their lives, including during the emergency response to the disaster.

Read the complete story at