Chernobyl, 26 April 1986
The accident and its consequences
On 26 April 1986, the most destructive accident in the history of the nuclear industry occurred at Unit 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant located 100 km to the north of Kiev, in Ukraine (at that time, part of the USSR). The subsequent reactor fire, which lasted for ten days, resulted in an unprecedented release of radioactive material that contaminated more than 200 000 km2 of European territory, predominantly adjacent areas of Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine. The accident led to numerous immediate and long term adverse consequences for the public and the environment. It hasalso had substantial psycho-social and economic impacts on the affected populations and has negatively influenced the nuclear industry worldwide.
The highest radiation doses were received by emergency workers and on-site personnel, in total about 1000 people, during the first days of the accident, and doses were fatal for some of the workers. In time more than 600 000 people were registered as emergency and recovery workers ('liquidators'). Although some received high doses of radiation during their work, many of them and the majority of the residents of areas designated as 'contaminated' in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine (over 5 million people) received relatively low whole-body doses of radiation, not much higher than doses due to natural background radiation. The mitigation measures taken by the authorities, including evacuation of people from the most contaminated areas, substantially reduced radiation exposures and the radiation-related health impacts of the accident. Nevertheless, the accident was a human tragedy and had significant environmental, public health and socio-economic impacts.
Literature on the Chernobyl accident and its consequences is an important popular topic covered by the International Nuclear Information System (INIS) Database. The INIS Database contains many bibliographic records and full-text documents on this subject. Preservation of the knowledge developed in the mitigation of the consequences and its availability to the scientific and research community is regarded by INIS as essential.