The accident at the Chernobyl NPP in 1986 was the most severe in the history of the nuclear industry, causing a huge release of radionuclides over large areas of Europe. The recently completed Chernobyl Forum concluded that after a number of years, along with reduction of radiation levels and accumulation of humanitarian consequences, severe social and economic depression of the affected regions and associated psychological problems of the general public and the workers had become the most significant problem to be addressed by the authorities. The majority of the affected land is now safe for life and economic activities. However, in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and in some limited areas of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine some restrictions on land-use should be retained for decades to come. Most of the 600,000 emergency and recovery operation workers and five million residents of the contaminated areas in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine received relatively minor radiation doses which are comparable with the natural background levels. Apart from the dramatic increase in thyroid cancer incidence among those exposed at a young age and some increase of leukaemia and solid cancer in most exposed workers, there is no clearly demonstrated increase in the somatic diseases due to radiation.

Mikhail Balonov, The Chernobyl Forum: major findings and recommendations, in Journal of Environmental Radioactivity 96(1-3):6-12 · February 2007

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