Twenty-two years after the world´s most serious nuclear accident, work by the international community and the IAEA continues apace to assist Belarus, the Russian Federation and the Ukraine. The work is moving into a new phase that aims to build upon progress already achieved and target the most pressing social and economic needs.
The IAEA remains an active participant in recovery work at and around the Chernobyl site, mostly in the form of assistance projects related to the safe management of radioactive waste and decommissioning activities. The catastrophic accident on 26 April 1986 destroyed the reactor at Unit 4 and dispersed radionuclides into the surrounding area and parts of Europe.
"The UN General Assembly has proclaimed 2006-2016 a ´decade of recovery and sustainable development´ for the affected regions," UN Secretary-General Ban-ki Moon said in addressing the next phase of global cooperation. "The UN Chernobyl Action Plan, to be adopted this year, will provide coordinated support to implement the Decade, with a focus on social and economic development - including investment and job creation - and the promotion of healthy lifestyles and community self-reliance."
The IAEA has worked with multiple partners on Chernobyl expert and recovery projects over the past two decades. The work was commended in 2007 by the UN General Assembly, which particularly singled out the IAEA for its efforts in monitoring human exposure in areas affected by Chernobyl, remediation of agricultural and urban environments, and cost-effective agricultural countermeasures.
One effective international partnership has been the Chernobyl Forum, initiated in 2003 with the cooperation of the IAEA and seven UN organizations, plus Belarus, Russia, and the Ukraine.
The Forum´s recommendations, issued in 2006, define a strategy and set clear priorities for future activities at Chernobyl. The IAEA´s work includes:
- Assisting in the decommissioning and management of radioactive waste at Chernobyl, along with providing support in developing a plan for waste management at the site;
- Spearheading a project that will provide radiological support to rehabilitate territories of Belarus, Russian Federation and Ukraine affected by the accident;
- Undertaking a joint effort with UN agencies and national governments to distribute information on Chernobyl-related issues to the populations of affected countries; and
- Helping the Ukraine in the safe management of radioactive waste, based on IAEA safety standards. This effort takes into account all Chernobyl-related radioactive waste along with other radioactive waste.
Additionally, the IAEA is participating in a meeting of the UN Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Chernobyl today. A draft of the UN Action Plan on Chernobyl to 2016 is scheduled to be presented and many UN agencies and international organizations involved in recovery efforts are expected to participate.
The Chernobyl Forum was a two-year cooperative international effort that studied the social, environmental and health impacts of the accident. Created in 2003, the Forum was comprised of eight specialized UN agencies, as well as the governments of Belarus, Russia and the Ukraine. It concluded its work in 2005 and issued a set of authoritative reports that were released in September 2005.