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Radioactive Contaminated Territories


Risk Based Land Management, Rehabilitation and Sustainable Development of Radioactive Contaminated Territories

Tech Area / Field

  • ENV-MRA/Modelling and Risk Assessment/Environment
  • ENV-RED/Remediation and Decontamination/Environment
  • INF-SOF/Software/Information and Communications

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Obninsk Institute of Nuclear Power Engineering, Russia, Kaluga reg., Obninsk

Supporting institutes

  • Kurchatov Research Center, Russia, Moscow


  • Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, UK, Cumbria\nBrookhaven National Laboratory / Environment & Waste Technology Center, USA, NY, Upton\nCEPN, France, Fontenay aux Roses\nr3-Environmental Technology Ltd., UK, Herts, Ware

Project summary

The purpose of the proposed project is practical application of a developmental approach on risk based land management to address rehabilitation of radioactively contaminated territories and introduction of scientific and practical prerequisites for their sustainable development. This task is considered for the most contaminated territories of Bryansk region, Russia, subjected to radioactive contamination as a result of the Chernobyl accident.

The specific project tasks are based on a holistic approach to solve the complex problems of the rehabilitation of contaminated territories and improving the living conditions of the local population in the recovery phase (i.e., in the period after realization of pressing protective measures). The scope of this problem is much broader than conventional radiological problems and includes ecological and health risks aspects, socio-economic problems of the contaminated territory, and concerns of the public (local community and inpiduals). The work scope of the project includes specific well-defined tasks that are felt to have the most potential for achievement of the indicated goals.

The tasks planned within the project can be grouped in 'regional' and 'local' Work Packages.

The tasks of 'regional' character are directed to analysis of the main risk components and efficient use of relevant restoration means focusing on the most affected territories and people. Such a 'risk based land management' approach consists of two connected parts: 1) introduction of up-to-date information technologies for practical use and training (Databases (DB), GIS and Decision Support Systems (DSS)) within the programmes on rehabilitation of contaminated territories, and 2) cooperation with experts (involved in realization of rehabilitation measures and preparation of suggestions for decision makers of regional level) on the problems of assessing the current situation (risk indicators) and the scale of the needs for subsequent decision-making on effective use of radioactive contaminated lands and optimization of rehabilitation measures for critical territories of Bryansk region.

Within the tasks of the 'local' work package, in addition to the risk-based land management approach for 2 chosen farms and 2 settlements (with contamination in settlement and its vicinity 15 – 40 Ci/km2 and above), special attention is focused on the work with the local population, schoolteachers and schoolboys with the goals of forming and strengthening skills for living on radioactively contaminated territories. Along with strong involvement of the local population in the rehabilitation process it forms social and economic components of sustainable development at the local level. This work is directed to deliberate use of all the available information on environment for decreasing risk of living on this territory and to help inpiduals to take control of their own lives through realization of a social component of rehabilitation and sustainable development (via combination of the experience of the project team and approaches of ETHOS project (CEPN, France)).

The planned works are topical and supported by the local government and ministries responsible for rehabilitation of radioactively contaminated territories (Bryansk authorities, Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Health Protection).

Despite realization of protective measures on the contaminated territories fraction of milk for 5 districts of Bryansk region with contamination above formal action level exceeded in 2001 20%, whereas for Novozybkov district this value was more then 60%; about 50% of the rural population of 5 contaminated districts live in settlements with a mean dose above 1 mSv/y (formal dose level for exemption from intervention). As a rule, contamination of private agricultural produce, which constitutes the majority of foodstuffs of the local population, substantially exceeds contamination of farm produce. The causes for this are use of more contaminated lands for growing private production and fewer protective measures. Agriculture is forbidden in wide areas. Poverty forces many people to eat contaminated products (mushrooms, berries, game and fish), to feed contaminated hay to their cattle, and to burn contaminated firewood in their stoves. Model estimations demonstrate that optimization of agroecological and administrative countermeasures along with enhancement of the skills of living on contaminated territory can considerably decrease radiological risks to the local population.

A brief description of the Work Scope composed of 6 Work Packages (WPs) is presented below.

Work Package 1 (WP1) includes creation of information support of works on regional and local levels and presents an extension and complement of DBs and GIS-DSSs developed by the project team before. These GIS-DSSs can be an efficient tool for consistent implementation within the rehabilitation programmes, for specific and general analysis of the situation, and optimization of the structure of countermeasures (CMs) on regional and local levels. Developed GIS contains information and monitoring data of radiological, agroecological, social and economic, and demographic character for all the farms, agricultural fields, and settlements of contaminated districts in Bryansk region. Adaptation of models and DSSs developed earlier to the tasks/scenarios on complex assessments of different risk indicators (including contamination of agricultural produce and diet components, internal and external doses, and corresponding risks) and rehabilitation measures will be carried out within the WP1. Creation and use of detailed GIS-DSS on local level (for the chosen settlements) along with information on the living conditions of the local population is directed to realization of both radiological and social components of rehabilitation and sustainable development, including strengthening skills of living on radioactive contaminated territories.

Holistic approach on analysis of radiological, ecological, demographic and medical characteristics of contaminated territories and assessments of risk indicators are planned within the WP2. In this block detailed analysis of ecological situation and sources of anthropogenic contamination of the environment for the chosen territories is planned, including analysis of the ecological state for agricultural and other ecosystems. In addition, integral estimates of environmental quality, general tendencies in dynamics of biological persity in the conditions of complex technogenic contamination (based on the use of biotesting and bioindication methods), as well as analysis of demographic indices and morbidity structure of the local population will be carried out for the chosen territories. Taking into account the actual structure of contaminated land use and specific behaviour/habits of the local population the assessments of risk components for all the critical territories and settlements of Bryansk region will be carried out (including assessing contamination of agricultural produce and foodstuffs, internal and external doses to the local population, and comparison of different risks).

The tasks on effective risk based land management within the framework on rehabilitation and sustainable development of contaminated territories are planned within the WP3. Analysis of different variants and optimization of countermeasure structure for critical farms and settlements will be carried out with consideration of the site-specific ecological, economic, social, and other characteristics and restrictions. All the indicated examinations and estimates, including general and special problems of abandoned lands rehabilitation, will be discussed with relevant experts and authorities of the regional, district and local levels. In one of the blocks of WP3 an elaboration of the strategy of rehabilitation and 'exemption from intervention' concept for specific sites of Bryansk region on the basis of overall analysis of radiological and socio-economic indicators will be carried out to integrate less severely affected areas back into productive use as soon as it is practicable. Besides, special attention will be given to analysis of the Criteria & Indicators within sustainable development of contaminated territories on the basis of integration of ecological and economic categories with consideration of the local natural resources and new possible direction of economical activity.

Within the project, special attention is paid to the practical implementation of the approaches on rehabilitation and sustainable development at a local level. These tasks are considered in WP4 (System of works on rehabilitation and sustainable development of radioactive contaminated territories on local level in selected settlements and farms), and in WP5 (Training and education as a framework within rehabilitation of living conditions and sustainable development of radioactive contaminated territories).

In cooperation with the specialists of the specific farms the most detailed analysis of different variants of contaminated land use and optimization of measures on rehabilitation of contaminated territories on the local level is planned in WP4. The problems of possible and specific use of abandoned (the most contaminated) lands for practical needs will be analyzed. The analysis will be focused on realization of the most effective organizational, agrochemical and other countermeasures for obtaining agricultural produce with contamination below derived intervention levels.

Taking into account characteristics of the chosen settlement and its vicinity, and the features of behaviour and economic activity of the local population, the detailed analysis of the dose structure for different age and occupational groups will be carried out (with the use of inpidual dose monitoring and model approaches as well). These assessments and analysis will be based on the use of GIS-DSS for the chosen settlements and farms, including a detailed GIS for the settlement with corresponding radiological, agrochemical and other information and monitoring data for all the houses and homesteads.

All the data and assessments of WP4 will be used in WP5 for carrying out works with the local population to give the inpiduals greater control over their own destinies and to stimulate economic development at the local level. This includes, first of all, forming skills for production of ‘clean’ milk and other private produce and observance of the rules of radiation hygiene, as well as analysis of possible measures to promote economic and social recovery of inpiduals and communities. In addition, training courses for specialists of different levels involved in realization of the program on rehabilitation of radioactive contaminated territories is planned. Special attention is paid to development of educational programs and teaching aids (foundations of safely living on radioactively contaminated territories, foundations of dosimetry and radiation hygiene, and ecology). This work will be carried out in cooperation with teachers of the local schools. Within the educational program, students will be taught to radiation hygiene and radiation protection principles and will be guided in their implementation. For this purpose, computer technologies including educational versions of GIS-DSS for the settlement chosen and its vicinity will be used. All these measures will promote not only deliberate health care for the local population, but also form the premises towards improving the overall conditions of life for those who continue to live in the affected areas through directing their efforts towards measures designed to promote long-term sustainable development. As a whole, WP4 & WP5 represent multi-disciplinary approach on the basis of strong involvement of the local population and professionals in risk management and durable improvement of the living conditions.

The final section of the project (WP6) comprises the tasks of propagation of experience and results of this work. It includes, among others, a discussion of the radiological and ecological situation on contaminated territories, creation of documentary film about the radiological and other problems of living on radioactive contaminated territories, measures on rehabilitation, and conclusions and results of this project. In addition, results and unresolved issues of the project will be discussed at the special workshops with scientists and specialists, administrative, and public figures. The results will be published in Russian and foreign journals and presented at the International Conferences.

The proposed project corresponds to the ISTC goals, including attraction of the nuclear scientists to the tasks on preservation of the environment, participation in the tasks on sustainable development of territories and assistance in transition to a market economy. Most scientists and specialists of the project team participated in the International Chernobyl JSP and ECP projects, and some ISTC and TACIS projects of Chernobyl problems, as well as in projects on analysis of Kyshtym accident, and in assessment of the consequences of testing nuclear weapons and possible nuclear war. The works within the proposed project will be carried out in cooperation with the project collaborators from CEPN (France), Brookhaven National Laboratory (USA), Centre for Ecology&Hydrology (CEH Merlewood, GB), and r3-Environmental Technology (GB) (see section 4).

A key characteristic feature of this proposal is a ‘holistic approach’ to address rehabilitation of radioactively contaminated territories in recovery period, including involvement of the local population in the rehabilitation process, and forming conditions for sustainable development. The support of this project proposal by ISTC enables the project team to introduce in practice most of research and developments in this field for the last decade and take a direct and active part in solving actual and claimed tasks on protection of the population and environment and rehabilitation of anthropogenically contaminated territories. The multidisciplinary approach and methods to be used within the project correspond to the conception of the Agenda 21, and can be useful and important for scientists from many countries as the whole world learns the lessons of Chernobyl.


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