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J Environ Radioact. 2016 Jun;157:77-89. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2016.02.003. Epub 2016 Mar 24.

Thirty years after the Chernobyl accident: What lessons have we learnt?

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Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Lancaster Environment Centre, Bailrigg, Lancaster LA1 4AP, UK. Electronic address:
International Atomic Energy Agency, 1400 Vienna, Austria.
Institute of Environmental Radioactivity, Fukushima University, Kanayagawa 1, Fukushima, 960-1296 Japan.
Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority, 1332 Østerås, Norway.
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Portsmouth, Burnaby Building, Portsmouth, PO1 3QL, UK.
r.e.m., Franz-Siegel-Gasse 26, 2380 Perchtoldsdorf, Austria.


April 2016 sees the 30(th) anniversary of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. As a consequence of the accident populations were relocated in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine and remedial measures were put in place to reduce the entry of contaminants (primarily (134+137)Cs) into the human food chain in a number of countries throughout Europe. Remedial measures are still today in place in a number of countries, and areas of the former Soviet Union remain abandoned. The Chernobyl accident led to a large resurgence in radioecological studies both to aid remediation and to be able to make future predictions on the post-accident situation, but, also in recognition that more knowledge was required to cope with future accidents. In this paper we discuss, what in the authors' opinions, were the advances made in radioecology as a consequence of the Chernobyl accident. The areas we identified as being significantly advanced following Chernobyl were: the importance of semi-natural ecosystems in human dose formation; the characterisation and environmental behaviour of 'hot particles'; the development and application of countermeasures; the "fixation" and long term bioavailability of radiocaesium and; the effects of radiation on plants and animals.


Chernobyl; Countermeasures; Effects on wildlife; Fixation in soil; Hot particles; Semi-natural ecosystems

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