The Chernobyl (or Chornobyl in Ukrainian) event in 1986 represents the extreme case where a substantial portion of the fission products in the reactor core and some of the fuel were released directly to the environment. The event was caused by a combination of human and design issues. The event was undoubtedly the most severe accident to happen at a nuclear power plant. It also represents the first time that nuclear process-related deaths occurred at a commercial nuclear power facility and the offsite public was affected by events at a plant.
Courtesy Chernobyl NPP
Several excellent sites currently exist which describe the sequence of events and the effects on the offsite communities and environment. There are, unfortunately, also a number of other sites that misrepresent the events, reasons, and consequences. The sites listed below provide the most factual information on this event.
This is the most complete site providing a description of the accident and the short- and long-term effects. This site was updated in 2002 and is sponsored by the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA). The objective of the NEA Committee on Radiation Protection and Public Health (CRPPH) was to make "an honest assessment, ten years on of the accident, on the state of the contaminated territories and the state of health of the populations and, on this basis, to attempt an appreciation of the risks to be expected not only for man but also for his environment."
The principal author was Dr. Peter Waight (Canada). An editing committee consisted of 13 medical and radiation protection specialists from major global and country agencies. The committee was chaired by Dr. H. Métivier IPSN, France. A table of contents lists and links to the following major subjects of the report. In addition to an executive summary, major subjects covered are - (1) Site and Accident Sequence, (2) Release, dispersion and deposition of radionuclides, (3) Reactions of national authorities, (4) Dose estimates, (5) Health impacts, (6) Agricultural and environmental impacts, (7) Potential residual risks, (8) Shutdown of the Chernobyl plant, and (9) Lessons Learned. Explanation of the terms used, list of acronyms, and references are also provided. Illustrations and photos are also provided. Some (400+K in size) of these require longer loading times.
Following the event, the Kurchatov Institute provided the results of the Russian investigation into the events, the causes, and the contributing factors related to the event at Chernobyl.
The IAEA has been instrumental since its inception in promoting nuclear safety globally. IAEA has published a number of reports summarizing consequences, e.g. 10, 15, and 20 years after the event. These include:
- Ten Years After Chernobyl:. what do we really know?
- Topics include:: Sorting out the Facts, Facts, The accident was by far the most devastating in the history of nuclear power, Emergency workers were exposed to high doses of radiation; the surrounding population to far less, An increased number of radiation-related thyroid cancers is now evident, Other than thyroid cancer, long term health impacts from radiation have not been detected, Severe environmental impacts were short-term, Low-level radioactive contamination will persist for decades, Chernobyl-type reactors have been upgraded for safety, Assistance for affected areas and populations remains essential, Principal examples of assistance activities in the United Nations system, Assistance from other International Organizations
- 15 Years After Chernobyl, nuclear power plant safety improved , but strains on health, economy and environment remain
- Chernobyl : The True Scale of the Accident 20 Years Later a UN Report Provides Definitive Answers to Repair Lives
- IAEA website search results - Chernobyl
JAERI provides several simulations showing the transport of radionuclides from the Chernobyl plant over a 2 week period following the event.
This Baylor College of Medicine website provides concise answers to important problems which are of concern to people exposed to radiation, particularly those who have arrived in the USA from Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine who were exposed to radiation after the accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.
The NRC, in NUREG-0933, assessed the implications of the Chernobyl accident for nuclear plants in the US. In 2001, the NRC decided that distribution of potassium iodide should be done as an effective countermeasure to reduce the likelhood of thyroid cancer in the event of a nuclear accident.
In addition, NRC has published:
- Fact Sheet on the Accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant
- Backgrounder on Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Accident
- Frequently Asked Questions about Potassium Iodide
The institute has extensively studied the impact of the event within and outside Sweden. The search results lead to related reports. As an example, Dr Klas Rosén of the SLU Department of Radioecology has written several articles on Chernobyl covering - The Chernobyl accident, impact of the accident on Sweden (with recommendations to farmers), radiocesium pathways from fallout to humans, cesium deposition in the Nordic countries, radiation hotspots near Chernobyl following the accident.
The US government, through INSP, has conducted a number of initiatives in response of the Chornobyl accident. The PNL site outlines the international Chronobyl Center objectives, provides photos, a number of presentations, assessment of impact on unit 3, reports, a profile on the Chornobyl site itself, including it's statistics, history, and the safety improvements, as well as a number of other related subjects.
Three other sites presenting information about Chernobyl are:
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