September 6, 2005
“A press release issued yesterday by the International Atomic Energy Agency about a United Nation’s Chernobyl Forum report on the health consequences of the 1986 Chernobyl accident demonstrates once again how habitually and dramatically the nuclear industry understates the impacts of a reactor accident. Although the report itself remains unavailable to the public, the press release states that 4,000 people are likely to die as a result of the Chernobyl accident. This is in stark contrast to industry propaganda that insists the deaths of only about 32 to 36 emergency responders can be directly attributable to the accident.
However, the press reports to date indicate that, despite these findings, the UN is downplaying the accident’s impacts. To downplay the loss of 4,000 lives, not to mention the non-fatal cancers and other health effects, hundreds of billions of dollars in damages and permanent loss of land-use demonstrates an obscene disregard for human life and wellbeing. Such consequences are entirely unacceptable for an industrial accident of any sort.
And the real consequences, when considering the entire affected population, are likely to be much higher: the 4,000-fatality estimate appears to be based on a population of only 600,000 exposed individuals. Given that tens of millions of people were exposed to Chernobyl radiation, a study using the standard method of accounting for radiation damage (the “linear no-threshold” method) among the entire affected population would be expected to find far greater casualties.
This is especially significant considering that the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in June 2005 (in a report entitled “Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation, VII”) reaffirmed the “linear no-threshold” model and concluded that there is no safe exposure level to radiation.
NIRS urges full disclosure of the report to the public. Until this happens, the scant information made available to date clearly is insufficient to provide knowledgeable analysis on the report, nor does it allow for peer review of the report’s findings and conclusions.”