According to the Agency "fewer than 50 deaths had been
directlyattributed to radiation from the disaster, almost all being
highlyexposed rescue workers, many who died within months of the
accident butothers who died as late as 2004."
However, these conclusions are not substantiated by reports upon
whichthe digest is based. Indeed they are contradicted by them.
Often,research has been omitted and where scientific uncertainty
exists, theauthors simply conclude that there is no impact. A more
careful readingof the 600-page report, as well as previous
published research byUN-bodies leads to very different conclusions.
* The World Health Organisation refers to a study of 72,000
Russianclean-up workers of which 212 died as the result of
radiation. Thetotal number of 'liquidators' (in Belarus, Russia and
Ukraine) isestimated at some 600,000;
* The number of 4,000 deaths relates only to a population of
600,000,whereas radiation was spread over most of Europe. The IAEA
has omittedthe impacts of Chernobyl fall out on millions of
* The IAEA tries to make strict distinction between health
impactsattributable to radiation and other health impacts
attributable tostress, social situation etc. However, the WHO is
referring to numerousreports which indicate an impact of radiation
on the immune system,causing a wide range of health effects;
The IAEA states today that previous researchers who have
estimated thenumber of deaths up to hundreds of thousands have
exaggerated theimpacts. This is not correct.
The WHO rightly refers to 2 different methodological approaches
to assess the health impacts of radiation:
* The first - the scientifically most accepted approach - is
based onthe standards set by the International Commission on
RadiationProtection (ICRP) and which assumes that there is a linear
relationshipbetween radiation dose and effect, without a threshold.
This means thatif a very large population is subjected to a very
low dose, thecollective impact can still be very serious. In the
case of theChernobyl accident, this leads to estimates long term
fatalityestimates in the hundreds of thousands.
* The other approach is based on epidemiology and tries to
report theactual number of casualties and use statistical methods
to estimate thetotal number of casualties for a population. This
approach is valuablein well controlled situations, but can become
very problematic incomplex situations such as in Europe, where were
it will be absolutelyimpossible to relate individual cases cancer
e.g. in Belgium or Franceto Chernobyl fallout.
The Chernobyl explosion occurred April 26, 1986, when an
out-of-controlnuclear reaction blew off the roof of the steel
building and spewedtons of radioactive material into the air. It
was the worst nuclearaccident in history.
"It is appalling that the IAEA is whitewashing the impacts of
one ofthe most serious industrial accidents in human history," said
Jan VandePutte, Greenpeace International nuclear campaigner.
"Denying the realimplications is not only insulting the
thousands of victims - who aretold that their illnesses are a
result of stress and irrationalfear and not radiation - but is
also leads to dangerousrecommendations, to relocate people back in
Other contacts: Jan Vande Putte, Greenpeace International nuclear campaigner: +32 49 616 15 84Cecilia Goin, Greenpeace International media officer: + 31 6 212 96 908
Notes: Chernobyl: The True Scale of the Accident: http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/Focus/Chernobyl/index.shtml WHO, Low doses of radiation linked to small increase in cancer risk. http://www.iarc.fr/ENG/Press_Releases/pr166a.html