[ RadSafe ] Article from Bellona re: Chernobyl Health Effects

Jim Hardeman Jim.Hardeman at dnr.state.ga.us
Mon Jan 11 15:53:54 CST 2010

Colleagues --
I pass along the article below w/o editorial comment -- yet.
Jim Hardeman
jim.hardeman at dnr.state.ga.us 

Chernobyl area doctors and researchers contradict predicted UN
mortality figures as being far too low years after disaster
NEW YORK * Doctors at the Children's Cancer Hospital in Minsk, Belarus
and at the Vilne Hospital for Radiological Protection in Eastern Ukraine
are telling international media that they are seeing what they have no
doubt is a spike in cancer rates, mutations and blood diseases among
their patients linked to the world*s largest nuclear disaster at
Chernobyl 24 years. Charles Digges,  (
http://www.bellona.org/persons/1140449402.92 )11/01-2010 

If the reports of the local doctors and researchers, many of who spoke
to Bellona Web Monday and in interviews last week, prove to be true,
they could stand over two decades* worth of research by the United
Nations and affiliated organisations on its head, and cast a shadow over
the research techniques that have thus far been employed. 

The local data clash with figures release by the UN*s World Health
Organisation and the International Atomic Energy Agency, Those agencies
have fixed the number of victims of the blast and fallout that occurred
when Chernobyl*s No. 4 reactor experienced a melt-down in 1986 and
exploded at 56.Local doctors confound UN reports
But the local doctors tell reporters that proving that an increase in
infant mortality rates of 20-30 percent in 20 years, or that many young
people suffering from genetic disorders, internal organ deformities and
thyroid cancers are victims for the radioactive fallout from the
disaster spread over several countries is impossible.  

In calls by Bellona Web to the WHO and the IAEA, spokesmen there
reiterated that only 56 died in the initial blast at reactor No.4 and
that only about 4,000 people would eventually die from eventual
radiation exposure. 

One spokesman for the IAEA, who declined to be identified, said that
only a few children have died of cancer in the wake of the wake of the
accident, and most of the illnesses usually linked to Chernobyl are due
to *psychological distress, *radiophobia* or poverty and unhealthy
lifestyle habits,* he said.IAEA: It*s all in your head
Radiophobia is a fear of ionizing radiation, most usually used to
describe fear of x-rays, as defined by the US compiled Diagnostics and
Statistics Manual (DSM) of mental disorders. The term is also used to
describe a general opposition to nuclear power use.

When asked how it was that such young children could be cognisant
enough of ionizing radiation to develop psychosomatic physical symptoms
to the point of death and lengthy hospitalisation, the spokesman replied
that he was not a medical expert and that he had no further comment. 

In 2006, an IAEA spokesman, also speaking anonymously, said he was
confident the WHO figures  of 56 immediate deaths and 4,000 eventual
deaths were correct, the Guardian reported. And Michael Repacholi,
director of the UN Chernobyl forum until 2006, has claimed that even
4,000 eventual deaths could be too high. The main negative health
impacts of Chernobyl were not caused by the radiation but by the fear of
it, he claimed.
That same year, German Green Member of European Parliament, Rebecca
Harms, called for the IAEA to be removed on grounds of bias from
contributing scientific data regarding Chernobyl.
"(The IAEA) are not independent. They are working in favour of or close
to the nuclear industry. Their job has been from the very beginning to
spread nuclear power all around the world," said HArms at an NGO
conference in Kiev.
"So they are in favour of nuclear power, and that has strange results:
They have presented falsifications to the World Health Organisation' s
studies concerning Chernobyl's consequences," Harms said.
Controversy rages over the agendas of the IAEA, which has promoted
civil nuclear power over the past 30 years, and the WHO. The UN accepts
only peer-reviewed scientific studies written in certain journals in
English, a rule said to exclude dozens of other studies.

Over the weekend, Linda Walker, of the UK Chernobyl Children's Project,
which funds Belarus and Ukraine orphanages and holidays for affected
children, called in the paper for a determined effort to learn about the
effects of the disaster. 

"Parents are giving birth to babies with disabilities or genetic
disorders * but, as far as we know, no research is being conducted," she

A 2007 study by Stockholm University and New York*s Columbia University
found that Swedish children born in the months following the 1986
Chernobyl disaster suffered mental impairment from the radioactive
In 2008, Russia's official state news Channel One reported a huge jump
in the number of thyroid cancer rates being reported by Russian doctors.
The broadcast, Channel One's television show "Health," told Russians
between the ages of 20 and 40 to immediately schedule thyroid exams with
their doctors.Other reports higher than UN, but who is right?
While poverty and low standards of living in eastern Ukraine, where
Chernobyl is located, and Belarus, which bore the brunt of Chernobyl*s
impact, are certainly contributing factors to general poor health in the
region, doctors who spoke with Bellona Web said, scientists studying the
most contaminated areas of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine are not convinced
of the IAEA and WHO*s figures, said Oksana Kostikova of the Children*s
Cancer Hospital in Minsk in a telephone interview. 

*These figures cited by the WHO and the IAEA don*t even match with
figures other UN organisations are predicting in terms of cancer deaths,*
she said, noting that the UN*s International Agency for Research on
Cancer predict four times as many deaths for a total of 16,000 deaths
from Chernobyl. 
*This is a more accurate assessment of what we see daily, but it is
still on the low side,* said Kostikova. 

Indeed, the Guardian, quoting an assessment by the Russian Academy of
Sciences, said there had been 60,000 deaths in Russia alone related to
the Chernobyl disaster over the last nearly decade and a half, and
140,000 in Ukraine and Belarus. 

The Belarusian National Academy of Sciences estimates that the country
has suffered 93,000 and 270,000 cases of cancer so far, said Valentina
Pakhomchik, secretary of the academy*s ecological commission, by

The Guardian reported that the Ukrainian National Commission for
Radiation Protection estimated 500,000 deaths as a result of the
accident, though that could not be independently verified by commission
members, but was supported in a telephone interview with Leonid Ilyin of
the State Research Centre of Russia*s Institute of Biophysics. 

The mismatches in figures arise because there have been no
comprehensive, co-ordinated studies of the health consequences of the
accident said both Ilyin and Kostikova. 

By contrast, in Nagasaki and Hiroshima official research showed that
the main rise in most types of cancer and non-cancer diseases only
became apparent years after the US nuclear bombs were dropped on those

With Chernobyl there have been difficulties in gathering reliable data
from areas left in administrative chaos after the accident. Hundreds of
thousands of people were moved away from the affected areas, and the
collapse of the Soviet Union led to records being lost.

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