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

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April 2016 sees the 30th 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+137Cs) 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-89
JournalJournal of Environmental Radioactivity
Early online date24 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016


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