Chernobyl disaster overplayed: study

Published September 7, 2005

THE nuclear disaster at Chernobyl almost 20 years ago has so far claimed fewer than 50 lives, according to a study by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN Development Programme and the World Health Organisation. But about 4,000 people could eventually die from exposure to radiation released when a reactor caught fire in the Ukrainian forest and showered Europe with a plume of radioactive particles.

Scientists have released a three-volume, 600-page report on the accident and the death, disease and economic ruin that became its legacy in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. “This was a very serious accident with major health consequences, especially for thousands of workers exposed in the early days, who received very high radiation doses, and for thousands more stricken with thyroid cancer,” said Burton Bennett, chairman of the Chernobyl Forum, which released the study.

“By and large, however, we have not found profound negative health impacts to the rest of the population in surrounding areas, nor widespread contamination.” More than 1,000 workers on the site were heavily exposed on the first day. About 200,000 emergency and recovery workers were exposed in the next year, and of these, 2,200 could die prematurely. An estimated 5 million people live in areas contaminated by the fire and about 100,000 still live in regions classified as areas of “strict control”. There were 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer in children and adolescents, and at least nine children died.

The report found no evidence of decreased fertility among the affected population, nor an increase in congenital malformations. But the sarcophagus built to contain the damaged reactor was at risk of collapse, the report warned. And the mental health of people in the region poses the biggest problem. —Dawn/The Guardian News Service

Opinion

Editorial

Afghan puzzle
Updated 28 May, 2024

Afghan puzzle

Unless these elements are neutralised, it will not be possible to have the upper hand over terrorist groups.
Attacking minorities
28 May, 2024

Attacking minorities

Mobs turn into executioners due to the authorities’ helplessness before these elements.
Persistent scourge
28 May, 2024

Persistent scourge

THE challenge of polio in Pakistan has reached a new nadir, drawing grave concerns from the Technical Advisory Group...
Mercury rising
Updated 27 May, 2024

Mercury rising

Each of the country's leaders is equally responsible for the deep pit Pakistan seems to have fallen into.
Antibiotic overuse
27 May, 2024

Antibiotic overuse

ANTIMICROBIAL resistance is an escalating crisis claiming some 700,000 lives annually in Pakistan. It is the third...
World Cup team
27 May, 2024

World Cup team

PAKISTAN waited until the very end to name their T20 World Cup squad. Even then, there was last-minute drama. Four...