Concrete containment structures are critical components of nuclear plants; they ensure the structure remains air-tight in the event of any leakage of coolant and prevent contaminated particles being released into the atmosphere. The design, construction and maintenance of such structures requires specialist expertise to guarantee their stability and safety. VSL offers a diverse range of solutions to meet this requirement; they can be combined to create bespoke packages or applied as standalone services for nuclear containment construction.

Ground improvement

It is often necessary to carry out specialist ground improvement works before starting construction of nuclear power plants, to improve the ground’s shear strength, stiffness, and permeability and reduce the risk of liquefaction in areas of potential seismic activity.

Deep foundations for nuclear containment construction

Nuclear power plants involve the construction of complex structures and deep basements. Specialist knowledge and experience in deep foundations is necessary to safely undertake such large-scale excavations and transfer heavy loads into the ground.

Cut-off walls

Concrete cut-off walls built below ground level can be used to help prevent any groundwater movement, improving ground stability, and also to contain liquid pollutants, preventing contamination of the surrounding area.

Horizontal directional drilling

In environmentally-sensitive areas, horizontal directional drilling (HDD) is the technique of choice for installation of a wide range of underground networks such as water, electricity, optical fibre, and so on.

VSoL®for nuclear containment construction

The construction of nuclear facilities often requires temporary support for heavy loads and the construction of working platforms on congested sites. This is where there is an important role for earth-retaining walls, both temporary and permanent. The latter can serve as a long-term risk mitigation and protection measure against natural disasters or industrial hazards.


VSL Technologies

Nuclear containment structures, in particular those for pressurised water reactors, are designed to withstand high internal pressures to prevent such as those that might occur in an exceptional event, for example a LOCA (‘loss of coolant accident’). In such circumstances, the post-tensioning provides structural integrity to the containment vessel, and ensures that it is leak-tight.

Heavy lifting

VSL Technologies

Heavy lifting can be used to overcome constraints inherent in the construction of nuclear containment structures when:

  • the element is too heavy for standard construction methods,
  • complicated access requires an alternative construction scheme,
  • construction schedules are tight.

Seismic protection and vibration control

VSL Technologies

At locations exposed to the possibility of seismic events or vibration, it is crucial to consider such threats at the design phase so that the asset is protected from structural damage and, of course, the population is safeguarded. Dampers and specialist bearings are very effective in mitigating vibrations, and enhancing the stability, durability and safety of the structure.


Regular monitoring and inspections must be carefully planned and carried out right from the start of the construction phase of a nuclear containment structure. This safeguards the durability of the post-tensioning system and confirms that it will comply with safety standards in any ‘loss of coolant accident’ (LOCA).

As soon as your containment structure is built, it enters a long-term life cycle with evolving needs and regular preservation, repairs and upgrading requirements.
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