Chernobyl Post-Accident Management: The Ethos Project


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Abstract

ETHOS is a pilot research project supported by the radiation protection research program of the European Commission (DG XII). The project provides an alternative approach to the rehabilitation of living conditions in the contaminated territories of the CIS in the postaccident context of Chernobyl. Initiated at the beginning of 1996, this 3-y project is currently being implemented in the Republic of Belarus. The ETHOS project involves an interdisciplinary team of European researchers from the following institutions: the Centre d'étude sur I'Evaluation de la Protection dans le domaine Nucleaire CEPN (radiological protection, economics), the Institute National d'Agronomie de Paris-Grignon INAPG (agronomy, nature & life management), the Compiégne University of Technology (technological and industrial safety, social trust), and the Mutadis Research Group (sociology, social risk management), which is in charge of the scientific co-ordination of the project. The Belarussian partners in the ETHOS project include the Ministry of Emergencies of Belarus as well as the various local authorities involved with the implementation site. The ETHOS project relies on a strong involvement of the local population in the rehabilitation process. Its main goal is to create conditions for the inhabitants of the contaminated territories to reconstruct their overall quality of life. This reconstruction deals with all the day-to-day aspects that have been affected or threatened by the contamination. The project aims at creating a dynamic process whereby acceptable living conditions can be rebuilt. Radiological security is developed in the ETHOS project as part of a general improvement in the quality of life. The approach does not dissociate the social and the technical dimensions of post-accident management. This is so as to avoid radiological risk assessment and management being reduced purely to a problem for scientific experts, from which local people are excluded, and to take into consideration the problems of acceptability of decisions and the distrust of the population towards experts. These cannot be solved merely by a better communication strategy. This paper presents the main features of the methodological approach of the ETHOS project. It also explains how it is being implemented in the village of Olmany in the district of Stolyn (Brest region) in Belarus since March 1996, as well as its initial achievements.

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