A 21 member International Advisory Committee approved
the conclusions and recommedations of the International Chernobyl Project.
IAEA-Chernobyl Timeline: Years of Steady Progress
Year by year since the tragic Chernobyl accident, international assistance
through the IAEA has made steady progress on multiple fronts. Technical and
research projects have targeted social, environmental, and safety problems
confronting people in countries most heavily affected by Chernobyls
fallout, and scientific studies have placed the accidents radiological
effects into clearer perspective. The latest activities seek to help Ukrainian
authorities take the closed Chernobyl plant safely out of service and manage
highly radioactive waste.
The IAEA timeline of Chernobyl assistance since 1986 extends to dozens of
expert missions, reviews, assessments, and field projects. (For full references,
see Chernobyl on the Web.) Highlights
of the Agencys response include:
- May to August 1986 Documenting the Accident.
Shortly after the accident, in early May 1986, the IAEA Director General
visited the Chernobyl plant, laying the groundwork for the world's first
authoritative review of the accident at an international meeting at the
IAEA in August 1986. Shortly thereafter, the International Nuclear Safety
Advisory Group, a panel of experts from the Agencys Member States,
issued a summary report of the accidents causes and immediate consequences.
- May 1986 Onwards Reinforcing the Safety Framework.
Within months of the accident, States had put into place two international
conventions under IAEA auspices: the Convention on the Early Notification
of a Nuclear Accident and the Convention on Assistance in the Case of a
Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency. They stand among a wide range
of agreements to strengthen global cooperation in areas of nuclear, radiation,
and waste safety. (Also see The
Global Framework for Nuclear Safety and Timely Response.)
- October 1989 to June 1991 -- Assessing Radiological
In October 1989, the IAEA coordinated an international
study of the accident's radiiological, environmental and health consequences
in selected towns of the most heavily contaminated areas in Belarus,
Russia, and Ukraine. Between March 1990 and June 1991, a total of 50
field missions were conducted by 200 experts from 25 countries, seven
organizations, and eleven laboratories.
- April 1996 Reviewing the Scientific Record.
April 1996, the IAEA co-sponsored with the World Health Organization and
the European Commission an international conference that summed up scientific
knowledge about Chernobyl's radiological consequences one decade after
the accident. More than 800 experts from 71 countries and 20 organizations
- 1991 to 1998 Evaluating the Safety of Chernobyl-type Reactors.
In 1991, the IAEA initiated a programme to assist countries in Eastern
Europe and the former Soviet Union in evaluating the safety of WWER and
RBMK (Chernobyl-type) reactors, and in reviewing safety improvements. International
consensus has been established on the major safety issues and their safety
significance for these reactors, and the Agency continues to provide nuclear
safety assistance to national authorities in various ways.
- 1990 Onwards Targeting Social and Environmental Problems.
Projects valued at more than $4.5 million have been completed or launched
since 1990 in response to the accidents social, environmental, and
economic consequences. Special attention has been devoted to rehabilitation
and other projects in Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia, such as the establishment
of radiation monitoring centers, reclamation of contaminated farm lands,
and the control of food products.
- 2001 to 2005 Decommissioning & Waste Management.
The Chernobyl plant was closed in December 2000, and entered a new phase
called decommissioning that will involve a series of steps over a multi-year
period. The Agency's assistance will include engineering and managerial
advice for proper planning and implementation of the decommissioning project,
which involves three units of the RBMK type. The project itself is being
carried out by a new enterprise being established by the Ukrainian Government,
and is expected to cover activities related to decontamination of buildings,
soil, and water, and to the removal of spent nuclear fuel from the units,
a task expected to take about a decade. Other new IAEA projects in Ukraine
address the safe management of radioactive waste, nuclear plant safety
services, and energy planning. The range of assistance includes analysis
of sound waste processing technologies and disposal options, and support
for the proper management of fuel containing radioactive material. One
new project has been launched in support of efforts at the sarcophagus,
or shelter, encasing the fourth Chernobyl unit, which was destroyed in
the 1986 accident. Another project is keyed to strengthening the effectiveness
of Ukraine's nuclear regulatory regime, and for the provision of safety
services to help upgrade the safety of the country's remaining operational
nuclear power plants in line with internationally accepted safety standards.
- 2003 - 2005 The Chernobyl Forum: Determines Health, Environmental
and Socio-Economic Impacts
In February 2003 the IAEA established the Chernobyl Forum, in cooperation
with seven other UN family organisations (FAO, UNDP, UNEP, UN-OCHA, UNSCEAR,
WHO and The World Bank) as well as the competent authorities of Belarus,
the Russian Federation and Ukraine. The mission of the Forum is - through
a series of managerial, expert and public meetings - to generate "authoritative
consensual statements" on the environmental consequences and health
effects attributable to radiation exposure arising from the accident.
The Forum was created as a contribution to the United Nations?ten years
strategy for Chernobyl, launched in 2002 with the publication of Human
Consequences of the Chernobyl Nuclear Accident - A Strategy for Recovery.
Since 2003, two expert groups - "Environment", coordinated by
the IAEA, and "Health", coordinated by WHO - have presented reports
for the Forum抯 consideration. In all cases the scientists from the UN
organisations, the international community, and the three affected countries
comprising the expert groups have been able to reach consensus in the preparation
of their respective documents. In April 2005, the reports prepared by two
expert groups were intensively discussed by the Forum and eventually approved
by consensus. In addition, UNDP has drawn on the work of eminent economists
and policy specialists to assess the socio-economic impact of the Chernobyl
accident, based largely on the 2002 UN study as above. Therefore, the Forum
reports represent consensus within the United Nations system.
In order to give wide publicity to the Forum抯 findings and recommendations,
and to inform governments, the international scientific community and the
general public, the Chernobyl Forum organized, through the IAEA, the International
Conference entitled "Chernobyl: Looking Back to Go Forwards",
held in Vienna on 6 and 7 September 2005. The Forum will disseminate its
findings widely through Un organizations and the mass media.
IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei has underlined the importance of
the Agencys work, while pointing to continuing challenges ahead:
"The Chernobyl accident showed that nuclear safety issues are not confined
by national borders. The past fifteen years have seen the international community
make steady progress in the formation of a legally binding safety regime.
New safety conventions have been concluded to cover, for example, nuclear
plant safety, radioactive waste management and spent fuel management. A major
challenge for the Agency today is to help countries implement the obligations
they undertake through these agreements.