The Human and Environmental Impact of Nuclear Plant Accidents

Tue. 9:00-10:30 a.m., Centennial F

The nuclear plant accidents in Chernobyl, Ukraine, in 1986 and Fukushima, Japan, in 2011 were sentinel events for the global community. These accidents shifted safety parameters in the nuclear industry, affected policy development in the International Atomic Energy Agency, and stimulated bio-medical research on the environmental and human effects of accidental radiation exposures.

For most, these events crystallized the pervasive terror of radiation on human mortality and morbidity. Perceptions of radiation risk have stimulated their own highly developed narrative discourse on the dangers of nuclear energy and the development of nuclear plant facilities in populated communities.

Twenty seven years after Chernobyl, we have collected a critical mass of scientific data that expands the knowledge base on effects of radiation exposure and the potential for mutative changes in humans, animals, and the environment. This evidence base, however, does not appear to have been assimilated into the discourse or perception of the general population.

Our panel will expand this discourse by presenting the latest research findings on radiation exposure and considering how this information can be optimally communicated to the public. This includes Chernobyl's effects on disease prevalence in the former Soviet Union, multigenerational effects in animals and plants, long-term psychological impacts of radiological accidents, and the trenchant effects of radiation anxiety on the beliefs and health behaviors of accident-exposed communities.

Panelist RoseMarie Perez Foster, Moderator
University of Colorado Natural Hazards Center


Panelist Thomas Borak, Panelist
Colorado State University


PanelistLen Ackland, Panelist
University of Colorado at Boulder


PanelistWard Whicker, Panelist
Colorado State University

Organizer: RoseMarie Perez Foster, University of Colorado Natural Hazards Center