Chernobyl

26 April 2011 is the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.

The world’s worst ever nuclear accident.

Click here for information on commemorative events in Australia.

Click here to see interactive maps of Chernobyl fallout over potential nuclear power sites in Australia.

Estimates of the Chernobyl death toll range from 9000 (in the most heavily contaminated areas) to 93,000 (across Europe).  The broader social impacts include those resulting from the permanent relocation of about 250,000 people and from widespread and long-lasting restrictions on agricultural production in European countries.

Estimates of the death toll:

  • Reports by the UN Chernobyl Forum and the World Health Organisation in 2005-06 estimated up to 4000 eventual deaths among the higher-exposed Chernobyl populations and an additional 5,000 deaths among populations exposed to lower doses in Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine.
  • A study by Cardis et al. published in the International Journal of Cancer estimates 16,000 deaths.
  • UK radiation scientists Dr Ian Fairlie and Dr David Sumner estimate 30,000 to 60,000 deaths.
  • A 2006 report, commissioned by Greenpeace and involving 52 scientists, estimates a death toll of about 93,000.

Click here to read an article debunking claims that just 50 people have died as a result of exposure to radiation from Chernobyl fallout.

Click here to read testimonials from Chernobyl victims.

From the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists archives: Selected readings on Chernobyl:

Chernobyl: Answers slipping away PDF
By Robert Gale, BAS September 1990
After the 1986 explosion, about 135,000 people were evacuated from a zone 30 kilometers in radius around the reactor complex. Four years after the accident we know little more than when it happened but the news is growing worse.

Nuclear power browning out PDF
By Christopher Flavin and Nicholas Lenssen, BAS May/June 1996
When Unit 4 blasted radionuclides all over the Northern Hemisphere, it all but wrecked the global nuclear power industry.

Truth was an early casualty PDF
By Alexander R. Sich, BAS May/June 1996
Soviet and Russian authorities have never told the full story of the critical first ten days.

The decade of despair PDF
By David R. Marples, BAS May/June 1996
A decade after Unit 4 exploded, there is no consensus on the number of victims, nor are Soviet-style reactors any safer.

Inside the beast PDF
Sergei Kiselyov, BAS May/June 1996
Six who were there tell their stories.

Estimating long-term health effects PDF
By Frank von Hippel and Thomas Cochran, BAS August/September 1986
Hippel and Cochran delve into the long-term health effects that followed the 1986 accident that occurred at Unit 4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station.

How radiation victims suffer PDF
By Herbert L. Abrams, M.D., BAS August/September 1986
Chernobyl represented the largest recorded experience of the effects of whole-body radiation and should serve as a warning about more than just nuclear power plants.

What happened at reactor four PDF
By Gordon Thompson, BAS August/September 1986
The accident began Saturday, April 26. A sudden increase in power was followed by an explosion of hydrogen. This was followed by a fire in the reactor building and a separate fire in the reactor core.

A nuclear power advocate reflects on Chernobyl PDF
By Alvin M. Weinberg, BAS August/September 1986
“…humans, in opting for nuclear energy, must pay the price of extraordinary technical vigilance for the energy they derive from nuclear fission if they are to avoid serious trouble.”

Chernobyl in context PDF
BAS August/September 1986
The word “Chernobyl” abruptly entered the world’s vocabulary in 1986. In addition to causing death and disruption to citizens living in the plant’s vicinity, the accident sent radioactive clouds drifting over a wide area of the western Soviet Union, Europe, and other parts of the globe.