Yet another major scientific report has been released by the United Nations regarding the long term effects of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in 1986. The report really states a lot of what we already know: the full effects of the event on the health of the region are very difficult to impossible to gauge with complete confidence, and while there may be some cancer incidence associated with it, which cancers would have occurred on their own and which are radiation-related is impossible to determine individually.
The report did cite a statistically significant increase in thyroid cancer (no surprise there), which has since plateued and is expected to decline in the years to come. Thyroid cancer is rarely fatal and is especially associated with exposure to the fission byproduct iodine-131. The report also notes that twenty eight of the early responders with the highest doses of radiation likely died as a result of that radiation. This not the general population of the area but the first responders to the scene, some of whom received near fatal doses of radiation.
UN releases new report on health effects from Chernobyl disaster
Vienna. A UN scientific committee on Monday released a new report on human health ramifications from the 1986 Chernobyl accident in the then Soviet Union, Xinhua informed.
A total of 134 plant staff and emergency workers suffered acute radiation syndrome (ARS) from high doses of radiation, according to the report compiled by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR).
In the first few months after the accident, 28 of them died, the report said, adding Skin injuries and radiation-related cataracts were among the most common consequences in ARS survivors.
Although another 19 ARS survivors had died by 2006, those deaths had different causes not usually associated with radiation exposure, the report said.
The report also said that radiation doses to the general public in the three most affected countries — Belarus, Russia and Ukraine — were relatively low, and most residents “need not live in fear of serious health consequences.”
However, the severe disruption caused by the accident resulted in “major social and economic impact and great distress for the affected populations,” the report pointed out.
The disaster, the worst nuclear power plant accident in history, occurred in April 1986, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, 130 kilometers from Kiev, now capital of Ukraine. The reactor was destroyed in the accident and considerable amounts of radioactive material were released to the environment.
UNSCEAR was established by UN General Assembly in 1955 to review sources of ionizing radiation and the effects on human health and the environment.
While the report does indicate the possibility of upwards of four thousand cancer deaths as a result of the radiation exposure, it should be noted that this is entirely hypothetical and based primarily on the linear non-threshold model of radiation exposure. That said, even if it is true, it would make the death toll of Chernobyl mercifully low compared to the number of deaths in other large industrial accidents or those killed each year as the result of burning coal.
That said, there remains enormous suffering in the region that the Chernobyl accident has come to stigmatize. Having been branded as a people without a future and a place tainted beyond all redemption, the region has seen crushing economic and social depression. Every day, babies are born in the area with severe birth defects and developmental disorders. It is not the radiation that has caused this but poor prenatal nutrition and that most insidious and unnoticed of plagues, fetal alcohol syndrome. As the world continues to point and gawk at those labeled as the victims of nuclear energy, the people of Ukraine and Belarus have been made to suffer an unending stigma and misplaced pity. Drug and alcohol abuse is epidemic.
It is long past due that the groups with a vested interest in demonizing nuclear energy move past this event and stop making it a self-fulfilling prophecy. They are the cause of the social and economic devastation, not the event itself.
This entry was posted on Monday, February 28th, 2011 at 11:13 pm and is filed under Bad Science, Enviornment, Good Science, History, Nuclear, Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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