Chernobyl's Cracked Container:
"Sponges" Go Inside for Repairs

KIEV, Ukraine - Workers began repairing the shaky beams that hold up the crumbling roof - hastily built 14 years ago - over the destroyed Chernobyl nuclear power reactor. Under worldwide pressure to prevent the roof's collapse, and using a crane and an elevator exclusively designed for the job, workers were lowered into the demolished reactor building through a hole in the roof, riding inside a so-called "radiation protection box." Workers welded steel and added concrete to beams, while dangling over doomsday. News reports did not say whether the human "sponges" exited the box to do the work. The laborers were told to work for only 30 minutes at a time because of extreme radiation levels.

On April 26, 1986, when operators were restarting the reactor, it exploded and burned out of control for days, sending clouds of radiation around the world. Some of Chernobyl's cancer-causing fallout was measured in cows' milk in Minnesota.

- Ashland Daily Press, Dec. 23, 1999.