Abstract

The long-term impact of the Chernobyl accident on the most affected populations in Belarus, Ukraine and the Russian Federation is still evident in terms of a continuing elevated level of thyroid cancer, prominent psychosocial effects, a depressed economy and a low level of well being. Some of these impacts are directly and primarily attributable to exposure to ionising radiation, while others have more complex origins and have evolved over the period since the accident. It is argued that although these latter impacts were largely unpredictable at the time of the accident, they could have been minimised had an appropriate management plan been in force. The principles underlying such a management plan for use in future accidents are enumerated. An essential component in further developing such a plan would be a thorough review of the experience of the Chernobyl accident in order to 'learn the lessons' that accident holds.