Thirty five years after the Chernobyl nuclear explosion in 1986 it is now clear that the long term consequences have been very different from those expected at the time. The extraordinary environmental recovery at the site of the explosion and in the surrounding area has shown that it is the impact of human activity which threatens the natural world, not that of nuclear energy nor of the radiation associated with it.

Chernobyl left a deep and lasting mark on trust in the old Soviet regime. It also triggered a complete, much needed and very successful restructuring of Russia’s nuclear energy industry. At the same time the already extremely rigorous safety requirements in other countries were tightened at huge cost, possibly even to levels beyond what was scientifically necessary, and certainly far stricter than those applied to the rest of the energy industry. All these changes helped nuclear to remain part of the global energy mix.

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