"The World’s Largest Land-Based Moving Structure at Chernobyl, Ukraine" by James E. Alleman

James Alleman

This seminar will provide a project overview for the recently completed ‘new safe confinement’ arch which was built to cover and protect Russia’s failed nuclear reactor site in Chernobyl, Ukraine. This construction project was a first-ever effort to remediate a nuclear disaster site, and involves a massively complex engineering challenge with the following unique features: building footprint greater than nine football fields, ~30,000+ ton dead load (excluding additional snow and wind loading), extensive site nuclear debris and acute environmental radiation hazards, highly compressible, alluvial marsh soil, regional earthquake risk, nearby active war zone, ongoing IT hack and terrorism threats, 100-year design lifetime covering full de-construction of Chernobyl’s failed reactor, and next-generation crane, environmental control, and autonomous transport robotics. This project’s overlapping structural, geotechnical, mechanical, and environmental aspects will be presented, spanning the period from initial design conception through final closure and initial site cleanup.


Professor Jim Alleman is the inaugural director for Notre Dame’s new Master of Engineering degree program within the CEEES department, which will be launched in August 2020. Dr. Alleman is a triple ND graduate (BS, MS, and PhD) who moved back to Notre Dame in 2019 after prior affiliations with three US universities (Maryland, Purdue, and Iowa State). His involvement with the Chernobyl ‘new safe confinement’ arch construction stemmed from his one-year Jefferson Science Fellow appointment with the US Department of State, during which time he monitored site construction activities plus assisted with on-site construction change order approvals.


Seminar sponsored by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences