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Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant

On April 26, 1986, a surge of power destroyed a unit of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine. The accident, and fire afterward, released radioactive material into the environment for about 10 days. Radiation exposure significant enough to cause health problems was limited to areas of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. Chernobyl Accident Aftermath

There is no special exam for Veterans who were serving in Europe at sites, such as Germany, after the Chernobyl accident because there was no significant exposure to radiation outside of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. 


According to the World Health Organization, there is no evidence of increased risk of leukemias and solid cancers for those in Ukraine,* Belarus, and Russia, which were closer to the exposure, aside from childhood thyroid cancer for those directly in the fallout area. The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation* suggested that radiation exposure was not significant to cause health effects for those outside of Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia.

Additional Resources

World Health Organization: Health effects of the Chernobyl accident: an overview*

Government of Canada: Health Effects of the Chernobyl Accident*

UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation: Assessments of the Radiation Effects from the Chornobyl Nuclear Reactor Accident*

Health concerns?

Veterans who were stationed in Germany during the time of the Chernobyl accident are not at risk for adverse health effects due to radiation exposure.

If you are concerned about possible health effects due to radiation exposure, talk to your health care provider.

VA provides a Toxic Exposure Screen for all Veterans enrolled in VA health care. This is available at your local VA Medical Center or Clinic.

Compensation benefits for health problems

If you have symptoms or conditions that you believe may be related to your military service, VA encourages you to file a disability claim. You do not need an exam to file a claim. File a claim online or call 1-800-827-1000 for more information.

Learn more about VA benefits.

Photo: Chernobyl Accident Aftermath, Source: Ukrainian Society for Friendship and Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries Attribution: IAEA Imagebank, CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons   

*Link will take you outside of the Dept of Veterans Affairs (VA) Website. VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the linked websites. The link will open in a new window for the content of the linked websites.


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