Fukushima health risks being downplayed, say Chernobyl researchers
As the Fukushima nuclear accident continues to unfold in Japan, the dangers to life and health are probably far higher than the official reassurances, according to researchers who investigated the Chernobyl catastrophe of 1986.
Around 985,000 people have died in the years since Chernobyl, say the researchers – many more than the 4,000 death toll forecast by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The deaths – mainly from cancer – are those recorded from 1986 to 2004, and the total is probably far higher today. The accident has also affected the health of many people living in the surrounding area. Before the accident, more than 80 per cent of children living in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia were healthy, but today fewer than 20 per cent are, say researchers Alexey Yablokov, and Vassily and Alexey Nesterenko.
In their book Chernobyl: Consequence of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment, they say that deaths and illnesses among the animals living in the area have also risen dramatically.
Dr Dimitro Grodzinsky, chairman of the Ukrainian National Commission on Radiation protection, said in the foreword that “apologists of nuclear power” tried to hide the real impacts of the accident from the moment it happened.
(Source: Chernobyl: Consequence of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment, American Academy of Sciences, 2011).