The explosion at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant 35 years ago released uranium isotopes of 234, 235, 236 and thorium-230 and 232 with half-lives from 75,000 to ten billion years, means that the Chornobyl accident area will never be completely free of radiation.
Today the exclusion zone is:
● A closed area with unique conditions of long-term isolation and limited access, which was affected by the most prominent artificial disaster in human history;
● A region whose set of manufactured and natural parameters has no analogues in the world;
● A centre of experience gained during 30 years of scientific and applied research, which is a universal value;
● A platform for the introduction of innovative technologies, the results of which affect the future of the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone itself and increase the level of safety of the natural environment and humanity as a whole.
On the territory of the Chornobyl zone, researchers held a study on:
The exclusion zone is a natural ecosystem of almost closed types. The presence of radioactive contamination of the territory, its parameters and features are a unique source of information.
Mechanisms of accumulation and chains of movement of radionuclides in the biological environment, signs of the influence of ionizing radiation on natural objects, determination of parameters and conditions of distribution of radioactive materials in the biosphere are the main directions of radioecological researches in the exclusion zone. Today, the exclusion zone is the only one-of-a-kind, a complex platform for the whole spectrum of radioecological research.
Areas of research in the field of radioecology:
● Systematization and analysis of radioecological knowledge acquired during 30 years of liquidation of Chernobyl accident consequences.
● Monitoring the state of radioactive contamination and the dynamics of its changes.
● Development and experimental operation of means of control and measurement of radiation parameters.
● Assessment of works and measures to eliminate the Chornobyl disaster and the consequences of its impact on the natural environment.
● Finding safe solutions, technologies and tools to improve radioactive waste management facilities.
The results of radioecological research in the exclusion zone allow minimizing the impact of man-made accidents on the environment and increase the efficiency of radioecological monitoring systems.
During the years of operation of the Chornobyl NPP and liquidation of the consequences of the accident, the ecosystem of the territory has undergone significant changes. The population of forest birds and animals has increased. New generations of artificially introduced species appear.
The landscape of the exclusion zone has undergone significant changes - more than 5% of the land has become swampy, and flora and fauna have changed accordingly.
The area remained the habitat of many biological species, both typical of the site and placed here artificially for experimental purposes.
Areas of research in the field of radiobiology:
● Analysis of the impact of small doses of radiation on humans, flora and fauna.
● Research of different methods of the revitalization of radiation-contaminated territories.
Radiobiological research provides an opportunity to develop educational projects, projects to inform the public about the effects of radiation on humans, flora and fauna, and develop reclamation programs for radiation-contaminated areas.
Environmental issues in the Exclusion Zone are not just about radiation pollution. The long period of absence of the human factor in some significant areas of the exclusion zone creates favourable conditions for deploying available environmental research.
Several issues and problems are not directly related to radiation contamination of the territory but are of interest to environmental scientists. An ecological and radiation biosphere reserve has been created within the exclusion zone covered by environmental legislation. Rivers and lakes, forests and vegetation, artificial reservoirs form a complex conglomerate that requires a separate study.
Areas of research in the field of general ecology:
● An ecological study of flora and fauna within the biosphere reserve.
● Creation of a research base for environmental measures, including several species listed in the Red Book of Ukraine.
● Research of potential and rates of the natural revitalization of the exclusion zone.
Physical security and protection
From the point of view of physical protection, materials stored in the exclusion zone in the modern world may be of interest to third parties for their use for illegal purposes. The extensive work of controlling bodies and state security bodies aims to eliminate the possibility of removing radioactive materials from their storage places and the case of their use by criminal persons.
A unique complicating factor is the large-scale distribution of radioactive materials in the territory. Also important is that along with the development of means for determining the sources of ionizing radiation, the fleet of technical standards that hide radioactive materials from identification is growing and developing. In such conditions, the creation of mechanisms to counter the unauthorized movement of radioactive materials is a task of national importance.
The direction of research in the field of physical security and protection:
● Developments to improve radioactive waste management facilities and create a list of recommendations based on analytical reports on the effectiveness of existing radioactive waste management facilities.
● Development of an updated procedure for interaction between the population and staff with state regulatory authorities.
The recommendations obtained from the research will help create super-reliable mechanisms to counteract the unauthorized use of radioactive materials.
No less critical area of research is the prevention and minimization of the effects of manufactured phenomena on activities in the exclusion zone and beyond. Fires, floods, gusts of wind pose a severe threat to human activities and the safety of radioactive materials in the exclusion zone.
The development and implementation of modern means of prevention and early identification of human-made emergencies is an essential component of safe living conditions of the exclusion zone.
Areas of research in the field of human-made safety:
● The impact of man-made phenomena on the functioning of industrial enterprises and radioactive waste management facilities in the exclusion zone.
● Monitoring of changes in the exclusion zone's technogenic conditions remains a severe source of threat to the surrounding areas.
These studies are needed to improve existing methods of early detection, prevention and minimization of the consequences of human-made phenomena.
Other areas of research
Areas of research, scientific and practical activities in the exclusion zone today are unlimited.
The search for possible alternative mechanisms for the management and development of the exclusion zone and the scientific substantiation of the possibilities of its extensive use are only a tiny part of other areas of research. An essential aspect of research is establishing public relations, preparing and publishing the necessary information, and bringing all research results to a form understandable to the general public.
Research conducted by the Chornobyl Research and Development Institute in the Exclusion Zone is essential for maintaining the required level of security today and creating better conditions for future generations.
SATREPS Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS) in partnership with Fukushima University. A Japanese government program that promotes and promotes joint international research. This program is implemented with the assistance of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The goal of the program is to find answers to global challenges.
Cooperation between Ukrainian and Japanese institutions is to disseminate the experience of eliminating the consequences of the Chernobyl accident, systematization of practical knowledge, and their application to overcome the consequences of the accident in Fukushima.
The first stage of the cooperation program is designed for five years. During this phase of the program, three new research sites in the exclusion zone are envisaged. The first research site is scheduled to study the peculiarities of the spread of radioactive contamination by groundwater.
The purpose of the second site is to monitor wastewater, the amount and types of radiation pollution washed away by surface water.
At the third site, metrological conditions, their changes and the spread of radioactive contamination within the study area will be monitored.
Separately identified and arranged sites for the study of radioactive aerosols.
During the project implementation, Ukrainian and Japanese scientists are working out joint regulations for monitoring studies of contaminated areas and forming a network of studies of radiation parameters of the environment within the exclusion zone.
JOPRAD JOPRAD (Joint Programming on Radioactive Waste Disposal) is a coordination activity of the European Commission. The purpose of which is to prepare the conditions for creating a joint program for the disposal of radioactive waste.
Cooperation under the JOPRAD project will bring together at the European level those aspects of research carried out in the framework of national research programs on the geological location of spent nuclear fuel and other high-level long-lived radioactive waste, including parts of waste management related to them. Burial and the main activities associated with them - education and training, as well as knowledge management.
Many years of experience of Ukrainian scientists, gained during 35 years of liquidation of the consequences of the Chornobyl accident, allows forming a significant amount of practical knowledge that is useful for scientists around the world.