|September 4, 2010
A massively documented new book charges International Atomic Energy Agency with covering up the extent of the "worst technogenic accident in history"
Editor's Note: This is a positive review of a controversial book. For a strong counter-argument, see the pro-nuclear blog Atomic Insights
Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment. Edited by Alexey V. Yablokov, Vassily B. Nesterenko, Alexey V. Nesterenko, and Janette D. Sherman-Nevinger. Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. 400 pages ISBN: 978-1-57331-757-3
Published by the New York Academy of Sciences. It is authored by three noted scientists: Russian biologist Dr. Alexey Yablokov, former environmental advisor to the Russian president; Dr. Alexey Nesterenko, a biologist and ecologist in Belarus; and Dr.Vassili Nesterenko, a physicist and at the time of the accident director of the Institute of Nuclear Energy of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus. Its editor is Dr. Janette Sherman, a physician and toxicologist long-involved in studying the health impacts of radioactivity.
reviewed by Karl Grossman
(Karl Grossman is a professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury and host of the nationally syndicated TV program Enviro Close-Up.)
This past April 26th marked the 24th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear plant accident. It came as the nuclear industry and pro-nuclear government officials in the United States and other nations were trying to “revive” nuclear power. And it followed the publication of a book, the most comprehensive study ever made, on the impacts of the Chernobyl disaster.
The book is solidly based on health data, radiological
surveys and scientific reports — some 5,000 in all.
"Areas of North America were contaminated from the first, most powerful explosion, which lifted a cloud of radionuclides to a height of more than 10 km. Some 1% of all Chernobyl nuclides," says the book, "fell on North America."
The consequences on public health are extensively analyzed. Medical records involving children — the young, their cells more rapidly multiplying, are especially affected by radioactivity — are considered. Before the accident, more than 80% of the children in the territories of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia extensively contaminated by Chernobyl "were healthy," the book reports, based on health data. But "today fewer than 20% are well."
There is an examination of genetic impacts with records reflecting an increase in "chromosomal aberrations" wherever there was fallout. This will continue through the "children of irradiated parents for as many as seven generations." So "the genetic consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe will impact hundreds of millions of people."
As to deaths, the list of countries and consequences begins with Belarus. "For the period 1900-2000 cancer mortality in Belarus increased 40%," it states, again based on medical data and illuminated by tables in the book. "The increase was a maximum in the most highly contaminated Gomel Province and lower in the less contaminated Brest and Mogilev provinces." They include childhood cancers, thyroid cancer, leukemia and other cancers.
Considering health data of people in all nations impacted by the fallout, the "overall mortality for the period from April 1986 to the end of 2004 from the Chernobyl catastrophe was estimated as 985,000 additional deaths."
Further, "the concentrations" of some of the poisons, because they have radioactive half-lives ranging from 20,000 to 200,000 years, "will remain practically the same virtually forever."
The book also examines the impact on plants
|PEDIATRICS Vol. 125 No. 4 April 2010, pp. e836-e843
Wladimir Wertelecki, MD
Medical Genetics and Pediatrics, University of South Alabama, Mobile, Alabama
PATIENTS AND METHODS
The overall rate of neural tube defects in Rivne is among the highest in Europe (22.2 per 10.000 live births). The rates of conjoined twins and teratomas also seem to be elevated. In Polissia, the overall rates of neural tube defects are even higher (27.0 vs 18.3, respectively; odds ratio: 1.46 [95% confidence interval: 1.13–1.93]), and the rates of microcephaly and microphthalmia may also be elevated.
by Pravda on September 4th, 2010
Nearly 25 years after the worst nuclear accident in history, new scientific findings suggest that the effects of the explosion at Chernobyl have been underestimated. Experts last month published a series of studies indicating that, contrary to previous findings, populations of animals decreased in the exclusion zone surrounding the site of the former nuclear power plant, and that the effects of radioactive contamination after the outbreak had been "overwhelming."
More and more pigs with high levels of cesium
are found at the scene. This information was disclosed months after doctors
detected increased rates of cancer in Ukraine and Belarus, mutations and
diseases of the blood, which they believe are related to Chernobyl.
The disaster occurred in April 1986 after one
of the blocks of the nuclear power plant exploded in what is now Ukraine.
Years later, the United Nations Organization (UNO), WHO, the IAEA and other agencies joined the governments of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine to create the so-called Chernobyl Forum (voir Le Monde, 26 avril 2006), to conduct a major study on the effects the disaster and publish its findings in 2006.
The investigation concluded that there were only 56 direct deaths (47 responders and nine children with thyroid cancer), and about 4,000 estimated indirect deaths.
However, the report was criticized by other groups, who claim it vastly underestimated the number of deaths and potential deaths due to the accident.
Some questioned the position of the IAEA, which for decades has supported the use of nuclear energy for civilian purposes. Alternative studies contradict some of the Chernobyl Forum findings and warned that the health effects would be far more devastating.
The TORCH report, published in 2006 by British scientists Ian Fairlie and David Sumner, mentioned the uncertainty that exists about the health effects of exposure to low doses of radiation or to internal radiation entering the body by ingestion of contaminated food.
They also pointed to an underestimation by at least 30 percent of the amount of radioactive particles that the explosion released into the environment. Official figures from the countries concerned also contradict the findings of the Chernobyl Forum.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer, affiliated with the UN, concluded that the most likely number of disaster-related deaths was 16,000, while the Russian Academy of Sciences estimated that, to date, there have been 140,000 deaths in Ukraine and Belarus, and 60,000 in Russia. The Ukrainian National Radiation Commission puts the figure at 500,000.
Doctors informed Ukrainian and Belarusian media in Ukraine earlier this year that there was an increase in cases of cancer, infant mortality and other health problems, and are convinced that they are most certainly the effects of the disaster.
"The figures from the UN and the IAEA do not match with the other agencies of the world body forecast in terms of cancer deaths," said Oksana Kostikov, the Children's Cancer Hospital in Minsk. In contrast, the 16,000 deaths predicted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer is a "more accurate assessment of what we see every day," she added.
In April, American doctor Wladimir Wertelecki published the results of an extensive research on birth defects in children of Ukraine, which revealed higher levels of abnormalities in certain areas of the country. According to the expert, this phenomenon might be related to sustained exposure to low doses of radiation. Wertelecki argued that the Chernobyl Forum findings should be reviewed to know the real effects of this atomic accident.
"The official position is that Chernobyl and birth defects are not related. That position should seriously be reviewed," he said.
* The post is written by - Pavol Stracansky (Translated from the Spanish version by- Lisa KARPOVA)