The Chernobyl nuclear crisis raised concerns about the safety of the Soviet nuclear power industry, as well as nuclear power in general, slowing expansion for a number of years. Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus have been burdened with the continuing and substantial decontamination and health care costs of the Chernobyl accident.
The World Health Organization suggests the total number of confirmed deaths directly from radiation in Europe could be over 4,000. A 2006 report predicted 30,000 to 60,000 cancer deaths as a result of Chernobyl fallout.
Greenpeace report puts this figure at 200,000 or more. A Russian publication concludes that 985,000 excess cancer deaths occurred between 1986 and 2004 as a result of radioactive contamination. There is a huge discrepancy among the estimated numbers, largely because of the crisis range and subtle yet deadly effects.
In Belarus the total economic cost over 30 years is estimated at $235 billion dollars. Over $13 billion is thought to have been spent between 1991 and 2003. The Chernobyl Forum claims that between 5% and 7% of government spending in Ukraine still related to Chernobyl.
Radiation influence on the environment
Much of the current cost related to the payment of Chernobyl-related social benefits to some 7 million people across the 3 countries. While it is difficult to establish the total cost of the disaster, a significant economic impact at the time was the removal of 784,320 ha of agricultural land and 694,200 ha of forest from production. Adverse effects have been found in humans and numerous animal species have been contaminated. Mutation in the animal population is the most common effect of the radiation. Plants and trees sometimes have very strange twisted shapes because the radiation has confused the hormones that the trees use to determine which direction to grow.
Vast majority of the contaminated land has been returned to use, but current agricultural production costs have risen due to the need for special cultivation techniques, fertilizers and additives. Over two decades after the Chernobyl reactor melted down, the exclusion zone remains uninhabitable. Emptiness, decay and nature have taken over as the site begins the slow process of healing.
From 1986 to 2000 around 350,400 people were evacuated and resettled from the most severely contaminated areas of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine. According to official post-Soviet data about 60% of the fallout landed in Belarus. Chernobyl reactor four is now enclosed in a large concrete shelter which was erected quickly to allow continuing operation of the other reactors at the plant. The soil and water in highly contaminated area still contain substantial levels of radioactive chemicals. Scientists believe it will be harmful for human life for decades to come.