Environmental consequences of the Chernobyl accident and their remediation: Twenty years of experience. Report of the Chernobyl Forum Expert Group 'Environment'

The explosion on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which is located 100 km from Kiev in Ukraine (at that time part of the USSR), and the consequent reactor fire, which lasted for 10 days, resulted in an unprecedented release of radioactive material from a nuclear reactor and adverse consequences for the public and the environment. The resulting contamination of the environment with radioactive material caused the evacuation of more than 100 000 people from the affected region during 1986 and the relocation, after 1986, of another 200 000 people from Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine. Some five million people continue to live in areas contaminated by the accident. The national governments of the three affected countries, supported by international organizations, have undertaken costly efforts to remediate the areas affected by the contamination, provide medical services and restore the region's social and economic well-being. The accident's consequences were not limited to the territories of Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine, since other European countries were also affected as a result of the atmospheric transfer of radioactive material. These countries also encountered problems in the radiation protection of their populations, but to a lesser extent than the three most affected countries. Although the accident occurred nearly two decades ago, controversy still surrounds the real impact of the disaster. Therefore the IAEA, in cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank, as well as the competent authorities of Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine, established the Chernobyl Forum in 2003. The mission of the Forum was - through a series of managerial and expert meetings - to generate 'authoritative consensual statements' on the environmental consequences and health effects attributable to radiation exposure arising from the accident, as well as to provide advice on environmental remediation and special health care programmes, and to suggest areas in which further research is required. The Forum was created as a contribution to the United Nations' ten year strategy for Chernobyl, launched in 2002 with the publication of Human Consequences of the Chernobyl Nuclear Accident - A Strategy for Recovery. Over a two year period, two groups of experts from 12 countries, including Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine, and from relevant international organizations, assessed the accident's environmental and health consequences. In early 2005 the Expert Group 'Environment', coordinated by the IAEA, and the Expert Group 'Health', coordinated by the WHO, presented their reports for the consideration of the Chernobyl Forum. Both reports were considered and approved by the Forum at its meeting on 18-20 April 2005. This meeting also decided, inter alia, 'to consider the approved reports... as a common position of the Forum members, i.e., of the eight United Nations organizations and the three most affected countries, regarding the environmental and health consequences of the Chernobyl accident, as well as recommended future actions, i.e., as a consensus within the United Nations system.' This report presents the findings and recommendations of the Chernobyl Forum concerning the environmental effects of the Chernobyl accident. The Forum's report considering the health effects of the Chernobyl accident is being published by the WHO

Author

International Atomic Energy Agency, Division of Radiation, Transport and Waste Safety, Vienna (Austria)

Subject

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; S61; S54

Source

Vienna (Austria) IAEA Apr 2006 180 p. Radiological assessment reports series; Also available on-line: http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/publications/PDF/Pub1239_web.pdf; For availability on CD-ROM, please contact IAEA, Sales and Promotion Unit, E-mail: sales.publications@iaea.org; Web site: http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/publications.asp; ISBN 92-0-114705-8; ISSN 1020-6566; STI/PUB--1239 {STIPUB1239}; Refs, figs, tabs; Book

Country

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

Descriptors

accidents; chernobylsk-4 reactor; cooperation; enriched uranium reactors; environmental effects; environmental impacts; environmental protection; evacuation; external zones; graphite moderated reactors; institutional factors; international cooperation; land reclamation; lwgr type reactors; population relocation; power reactors; public health; radiation protection; reactor accidents; reactors; remedial action; socio-economic factors; thermal reactors; water cooled reactors

Language

English

Year

2006