Wednesday, September 07, 2005

truth about chernobyl

This is the title of today's Globe and Mail editorial (behind subscription wall)which itself is based on this story, reported by BBC.

Experts have estimated that around 4,000 people will die from the effects of the 1986 accident at Chernobyl.
The figure, in the report by the Chernobyl Forum, is much lower than other estimates.
The report says there is "no convincing evidence" that there has been a rise in other cancers because of Chernobyl.

It says confusion over the incident's impact has arisen because many emergency and recovery workers have died since 1986 from natural causes which cannot be attributed to radiation exposure.

It says: "Widespread expectations of ill health and a tendency to attribute all health problems to exposure to radiation have led local residents to assume that Chernobyl-related fatalities were much higher."

Altough I was just a kid at the time I remember the Chernobyl histeria: dosimeter sales skyrocketed, people were afraid of eating mushrooms and berries for the fear of contamination, and a popular evening news program had radition levels announced at the end of each telecast (they had to give up pretty quickly for it became quite apparent that it'd be the same numbers over and over again).

The Globe's editorial writers go even further make the following conclusion:
The greatest health problem arising from the accident is continuing mental trauma brought on by fear of radiation and by unnecessary evacuation from areas with low, lingering background radiation. Millions of people in what are now Russia, Ukraine and Belarus still receive some kind of Chernobyl benefits which, the report says, have “undermined the capacity of individuals and communities concerned to tackle their own economic and social problems.”

Last time I was in St. Petersburg, the local TV news channel was running stories about a group Chernobyl 'liquidators' (i.e. those who worked in and around Chernobyl and have been recognized by the sate as 'Chernobyl vets'). They were on a hunger strike due to non-payment of their Chernobyl benefits. The reports showed them lying in bed in a seemingly empty apartment only to get up to give another interview. What I found slightly odd was that while complaining of their ailing health and blaming it all on Chernobyl those guys were puffing away and evidently were heavy smokers.


Post a Comment

<< Home