Aim: The purpose of this article was to provide the rationale for revising currently binding borders of radioactively contaminated areas in order to narrow these borders gradually.

Introduction: In order to revive the territories contaminated after the Chernobyl disaster, ensure their economic activity, it is urgently needed to change the mode of their economic activity, develop an effective mechanism for changing the status of these territories and review the procedures for revising the boundaries of contaminated zones. Today the need for the transfer of inhabited areas from the zones with a large number of restrictions to less restricted zones is experimentally proven. Therefore, the procesess revision of currently binding legislation and its modification to the current needs are indispensable. The general tendency of population exposure dose in northwestern Polessie regions indicates that currently the dose is mainly (80-95%) formed by the consumption of food with high radionuclide content (137 Cs). External irradiation constitutes only 5-20% of the total dose. General population exposure dose is formed by locally produced contaminated food. Moreover, the biggest amount of radionuclides is absorbed into human body with animal products – milk and meat. In some areas the largest percentage of radioactive cesium enters into human body from a diet rich in products from forest ecosystems (mushrooms and wild berries). In such settlements up to 20% of inhabitants regularly consume wild mushrooms and berries. Therefore, animal products and forest products account for more than 90% of the annual human exposure dose.

Methodology: To change the status of inhabited areas that belong to the zones of radioactive contamination after Chernobyl accident, measurement data were analyzed and systematized, the analytical methods of radioecological situation investigation in critical localities were used, the gamma spectrometry analysis of selected samples (plants, milk, forest products) was done. Regulatory documents – laws, standards, procedures - on the status and exploitation of contaminated territories were reviewed.

Conclusions: Since the accident the radiation situation in Ukraine has significantly improved. Out of 2293 settlements that were assigned to the areas of radioactive contamination in 1991, today 1851 settlements may be excluded from the zones of radioactive contamination and after the restoration of infrastructure can be returned to normal activities, without any limitations caused by radiation impact. However, there are 25 settlements that require regular countermeasures to ensure safety for their inhabitants.

Relevance in practice: For the expert review of the possibility to change the status of settlements, the team of authors developed “Guidelines for the preparation of expert opinion on establishment and revision of the boundaries of the zones of radioactive contamination”. This guidance is constitutes only a methodological document intended for the use by specially authorized central executive authorities in the preparation of expert reports. To date, the use of these guidelines by the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, by central executive authorities that form state policy in the field of health care, exclusion zone management and zone of unconditional (mandatory) evacuation, liquidation of Chernobyl disaster consequences, environmental protection, nuclear safety, the central executive body that implements the state policy in the field of supervision (control) in agriculture, allowed to prepare expert conclusions on the establishment and revision of the borders of radioactive contamination zones, which were and submitted for approval to the Parliament of Ukraine.

Keywords: Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station, radioactive contamination, agricultural land, radioactive situation

Type of article: review article