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Chernobyl Health Effects


20 years after Chernobyl

- The ongoing health effects -
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Script of the IPPNW-lecture „Time Bomb Nuclear Energy – 20 Years after Chernobyl

by Dr. Ute Watermann, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), 23.03.2006

On the 26th of April 2006, the reactor catastrophe of Chernobyl will see its twentieth anniversary. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is well prepared for the event. Together with the WHO and other UN Agencies, they will be presenting the “official study” on the consequences of Chernobyl. The preliminary results are already known: just under 50 dead, 4,000 curable cases of thyroid cancer, and prognostically shorter life spans for only 4,000 people because of the incident. Further consequences: none. For the IAEA the Chernobyl case is closed.


The people, the physicians and the scientist from the region speak of a different reality but nobody listens. For: 20 years after the Chernobyl catastrophe, nuclear energy is experiencing a second coming. In Germany, the prolonging of nuclear power plant runtime is discussed anew. The decision to phase out of nuclear energy is thus called into question. New nuclear facilities are being planned in Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and Africa. Although there are currently only 22 facilities under construction, the plans of the advocates of nuclear energy and the nuclear industry are immense. In the next years, China alone will probably invest in 30 new nuclear power plants.


The civil use of nuclear technology also leads to an increase of the nuclear threat. The crisis around Iran shows, just how closely civil and military options are intertwined: Possessing the technology for peaceful use means that one also has the necessary technical ability to build a nuclear bomb.


With this background, the question about the consequences of Chernobyl is a decisive one. 20 years after the catastrophe, we will try to undertake a careful analyses of the situation.


For your information: The lecture is divided into three parts. Part one deals with the power plant catastrophe in 1986, part two deals with the repercussions of radioactive radiation and the third part describes the health effects of radiation. The lecture will last for about one hour. Following that will be room for discussion.




Chernobyl – that was the greatest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind.


On the left you can see the still smoking reactor and on the right the exploded reactor twelve, hours after the catastrophe.


What led to the catastrophe on the 26th of April 1986? In Chernobyl, this small place in northeastern Ukraine, near the border to Belarus and Russia?




The historians can’t really agree. What is certain is that on the 26th of April at 1:23 am, a test of the cooling water system was started in block IV of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. As a result of different human failures, it came to an unplanned increas in the reactor output. The operator noticed the increase and ordered an emergency shut down 40 seconds later. The shut down failed, the reactor got out of control and exploded eight seconds later. The 1,000 metric ton heavy reactor vessel lid was lifted up and the tubing ruptured. Air got in and caused the gases to ignite. The reactor began to burn and of the approximately 140 tons of core fuel, it is estimated that 8 tons escaped.

On the 28th of April at 9:00 pm, two days after the catastrophe, the Soviet news agency TASS reported about an accident in the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and that humans were harmed. One day later, on the 29th of April, the news about this MCA (maximum credible accident) in Chernobyl is aired on German news broadcasts for the first time.




Three kilometers away lay the town of Pripjat. At the time of the meltdown, 45,000 people, among them 16,000 children, lived in the town. They enjoyed the 26th of April as the first warm Sunday in spring – and were not warned.

Not until one day later, 36 hours later to be exact, the residents of the power plant residential estate of Pripjat were evacuated. Further safety measures, like the intake of iodine tablets or the relocation to safe rooms were not taken.

In the next ten days, 76 villages were evacuated. The evacuation of the total population in a perimeter of 30 kilometers around the reactor lasted until the 5th of May. Altogether 130,000 people are evacuated. The area was declared a restricted zone. Until today, access is only possible with a permit.

The governmental control of milk and drinking water began on the 1st of May. On the 23rd, iodine preparations, which prevent the thyroid gland from absorbing radioactive iodine, were dispensed. Much too late. In order for the iodine prophylaxis to take effect, it would have to be taken before the radioactive cloud reached the people.




Here you can see the picture of an abandoned Kindergarten in Pripjat. The residents, who were evacuated on the 27th of April 1986, never saw their homes again.




While informing and evacuating the people proceeded slowly, the efforts to extinguish the fire proceeded under high pressure. At first, 600 men of the plant’s fire brigade tried to stop the fire. In the following month, they were assisted by up to 860,000 young men from the former Soviet Union, the so called “Liquidators”, who were conscripted for the cleanup efforts.


These young men were sent onto the roof of the burning reactor, without appropriate protective clothing, to extinguish the fire with bare hands and clear up the havoc. Until the 5th of May, more than 30 military helicopters threw 4,200 tons of lead and sand over the reactor in order to extinguish the inferno. The fire and radioactive emissions weren’t under control until the 6th of May.


Now began the construction of the so called sarcophagus of concrete, which encases the destroyed reactor today. The sarcophagus was completed on the 15th of November, 1986. Parallel to that, the Liquidators tried to clean up the surrounding area from radioactive particles.




Here you can see a soldiers standing at an entrance to the restricted zone.




Here is another picture inside the restricted zone.




And another picture inside the restricted zone with an abandoned house.




During and after the explosion in the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the radioactive equivalent of 100 nuclear bombs was released. What does that mean for human beings and the environment? Lets first look, where Chernobyl is located.




The Chernobyl nuclear power plant lies in northern Ukraine in the border region with Belarus and Russia. Through the fire in the reactor, the radioactive contents were blown into the air and created a radioactive cloud that crept over a wide area.


A perimeter of 30 kilometers around the reactor was declared a restricted zone. Beyond that, further parts of the three affected countries were radioactively contaminated: 30 percent of the territory of Belarus, 7 percent of Ukraine and 1.6 percent of European Russia. In total, 162,000 square kilometers were contaminated.


Because of the alternating wind and rain patterns it could occur that one village was highly contaminated while an adjacent village in the same region was not.




Alternating wind patterns dispersed the radioactive cloud over Europe. On the 26th of April the wind was blowing towards the northwest, on the 27th towards the west, later towards the northeast and on the 28th of April towards the south. Thus many European countries were affected by the radioactive cloud: among others the Baltic states, Scandinavia, Poland, Germany, Switzerland, France and England, but also Italy, Rumania and Greece.


In Germany following regions were mainly contaminated: southeastern Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Hamburg and Berlin.


Fortunately, the area around Chernobyl was sparsely populated. In Germany, or other western European countries with high population densities, a similar nuclear meltdown would have had even more devastating consequences. If for example, a meltdown would occur in the Biblis-B reactor in the Rhein-Main region, leading, as in Chernobyl, to an area of 10,000 square kilometers being declared uninhabitable, several million people in Germany would have to leave their homes permanently. Under such conditions, an orderly evacuation would be impossible. Whole cities and factories would have to be abandoned, causing people to loose the basis of their existence.


But also the area of Chernobyl was not completely uninhabited. Nine million people lived in the radioactively affected area at the time of the accident. 400.000 people had to be resettled, 451 villages evacuated and buried with soil.




For many people, this represented a downright break with their life up to that point. Here you can see an elderly couple which was resettled from their village to an apartment block in Minsk.




During the explosion of Chernobyl, more than 40 different fission products were released. For an appraisal of the consequences, the following four elements are of interest: iodine 131, cesium 137, strontium 90 and plutonium 239.


Iodine 131 has a half-life of only eight days. (Half-life: the time it takes for the number of atoms in a nuclide to be reduced by half through radioactive decay.)

Radioactive iodine is most hazardous to health during the first weeks after the accident. Iodine 131 is stored in the thyroid gland where it can lead to thyroid cancer in a few years and can cause other dysfunctions of the thyroid gland.


(For information in case of inquiry: Iodine 131 is an artificial isotope of iodine. It’s a beta and gamma emitter with 0.2-0.36 and 0.6-0.72 MeV respectively.)


Cesium 137 on the other hand has a half-life of 30 years. It was dispersed in great quantities. Cesium is absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and is deposited in muscles, testicles, kidneys, liver, bones and blood. Cesium 137 is considered a catalyst for cancer, but can also be the cause of a lot of other diseases. The radiologist Juri Bandascheswki of Belarus, for example, detected high concentrations of Cesium 137 in the myocardial muscle of children who suffered a heart attack.


(For information in case of inquiry: Cesium 137 is a beta and gamma emitter with 0.66 MeV.)


Cesium 137 is absorbed by the human body through the food chain. Cesium stays for decades in the upper levels of the soil, where plants have their roots. Through the plants, the nuclides enter animals which are then consumed by humans.


Forrest soil is especially contaminated because radioactive particles adhere easily to needles, foliage, and roots. That’s why until today, it is recommended to abstain from consuming wild animals, mushrooms and berries from the contaminated regions – which also include the parts of Bavaria which were reached by the radioactive cloud.


But it’s not just the soil which is affected. Many nuclides were washed out of the soil by rain and entered the subterranean aquifers and rivers. Exceedingly high is the contamination of ground silt in stagnant water bodies, which in turn are frequented by the populace for private fishing.


Strontium 90 has a half-life of 28 years. Strontium, like Calcium, enters the human body via plant and animal products and is mainly deposited in teeth and bones. New blood is formed in the bone marrow. Strontium is considered a catalyst of leukemia.


Strontium is much more mobile and soluble in water than Cesium. Directly after the accident, Strontium was found in the ground around Chernobyl. Today, experts assume that 80 percent of the Strontium has already entered the food cycle.


(For information in case of inquiry. Strontium is a beta emitter.)


During the accident, Plutonium 239 was also released. Plutonium 239 has an extremely high half-life of up to 24,000 years.


Scientists are especially concerned about Plutonium transforming to Americium. Americium can reach the deeper soil layers in a very short time. Once there, it represents a hazard for  subterranean water reservoirs for centuries. (half-life of Americium: 433 years)


(For information in case of inquiry. Plutonium is an alpha emitter.)


Except for Iodine, all other above mentioned radioactive elements enter the human body through the food chain. The exposure of the people around Chernobyl is therefore different from that of the victims of the atomic bombs attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


In Hiroshima and Nagasaki, people were exposed to high doses within a very short time. In Chernobyl on the other hand, the bulk of people involved have been exposed to low doses of radioactive radiation over a long period of time.




Here you can see a picture of a peasant woman selling contaminated berries. For many people in the region, such free provisions are a traditional and essential part of their diet. Although there are places to measure the degree of contamination, they aren’t used much because people cannot afford other food anyway.


In total, more than half of the food in the region is produced locally by people who grow their own vegetables and offer it at the local markets. The radioactive contamination of these privately grown crops is ten times higher than that of kolkhoz produce.


The reason is that kolkhozes apply Potassium and Calcium fertilizer which saturate the mineral needs of the plants and in turn cause them to absorb less radioactive substances. However, several kolkhozes lie directly near the Death Zone. The region used to be the most fertile area of Belarus, described as a granary from which, until today, crops are exported into the whole country.




How does radioactivity affect the body?

The effects of high doses of radiation, meaning upwards of 0.5 sievert, is pretty well known from the experiences with the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Acute is the outbreak of the so called radiation disease with following symptoms:

-          Within hours to days, the immune system is shut down and infections start to show,

-          the blood count changes, and uncontrollable bleedings occurs,

-          the gastrointestinal tract is affected and the person has to vomit,

-          other internal organs, such as the central nervous system, are also harmed.


From a doses of 1 to 2 Sv, a fifth of the affected die, at 7 Sv the rate of survival is zero.


Unlike these acute effects due to high doses of radiation, long-term damage such as tumors often only appear after decades.


According to official, non revisable information, 134 power plant employees and firefighters of Chernobyl were exposed to high doses in the range of 0.7 to 13 sievert. 31 died from acute radiation disease. At least 30.000 people absorbed a dosis of more than 0.5 sievert. Today, many of them are sick or already dead.


The great bulk of the population was and still is affected by low dose radiation – which means, as shown above, by low dose radioactive nuclides which they take in with their diet.




It is beyond dispute that even a small dose of radiation can cause cancer. This happens in the following way: radionuclides like Cesium 137 are unstable particles. They disintegrate inside the body, releasing energy. If this energy or radiation hits a cell, it causes the creation of other unstable particles – so called free radicals. These free radicals can cause damage to the DNA, meaning the genetic makeup, and thus lead to the outbreak of cancer.


What is disputable on the other hand is how often this occurs and if there are other diseases caused by low chronic doses of radiation. The scientists of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and many radiologists who cooperate with the agency claim that the consequences of low dosie radiation are irrelevant.


But since then end of the 1990s we can see a paradigm shift in the scientific community. There is an increase in scientific studies which allude to the alarming consequences of low radiation exposure. Molecular biologists report that the effects of low radiation on the genetic makeup are not apparent at first but manifest themselves after multiple cell divisions and are thus transfused to the following generations. This is what they call “genomic instability”.


Scientists reported in the journal “Nature” that children of parents who live on radioactive contaminated ground exhibit mutations in their genetic makeup, namely in the micro-satellite genome. The rate of increase of the mutation is directly related to the dose of radiation.


The Belarusian geneticist Lazjuk discovered an increase in the rate of malformations, proportional to the radioactive contamination of the soil in Belarus.


And the Russian biochemist Burlakova asserted that the antioxidant system of the cell – which protects it from aging – is susceptible to damage by low dose radiation.


Overall, because of the long latency period until the outbreak of a cancer, scientists postulate that the consequences of Chernobyl are not yet foreseeable at all.




But in spite of these studies, a year-long dispute about the consequences of Chernobyl has been raging between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) on the one side and the physicians, scientists, people and government authorities of the region on the other.



To start with: Let’s compare the figures.

In September of 2005, the IAEA and the WHO released the draft of a study by the UN Chernobyl Forum. The figures of this study are to be announced officially on the 20th anniversary.

The most important of these figures include:

-          Less than 50 deaths until mid-2005

-          Approximately 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer, mainly in children and adolescents; thereof 9 fatalities. The rate of survival lies at 99 percent if western therapy norms were applied

-          No proof for an increase in miscarriages and sterility or leukemia and other forms of cancer in relation to the reactor accident

-          In total, the number of future fatalities as a consequence of the accident could possibly reach a maximum of 4,000 people.

-          The Chernobyl case is closed: poverty, unhealthy living conditions and mental diseases pose a much greater problem than the radioactive contamination.


But other statistics also exist:

The government authorities of the three affected states present the number of 25,000 deaths in the group of young Liquidators. Other authorities even register 50,000 dead Liquidators.


The Ukrainian Embassy announced in Spring of 2005 that today, 94 percent of the Liquidators are sick.


According to the Ukrainian agency “Tschernobyl Interinforum”, 84 percent of the 3 million people who were exposed to radioactivity in the Ukraine are sick (weak cardiovascular system, diseases of the respiratory tract, adenoids, and digestive organs).


For the next 30 to 50 years, the WHO calculates with 50,000 cases of thyroid cancer in children who, at the time of the disaster, were between 0 and 4 years old. The Otto-Hug Radiation Institute in Munich forecasts 100.000 cases in all age groups.


Who is right? Let’s take a look at the separate disease groups.


Firstly the affection of the thyroid gland:

Shortly after the accident, senior Russian and also German scientists declared that radioactive iodine does not lead to thyroid gland affections. In 1991, the same scientists, together with the IAEA, claimed that “the data does not point to a clear increase in the cases of thyroid cancer since the accident”.

Belarusian physicians reported in 1990 a large number of thyroid alterations in children.

Professor Edmund Lengfelder from the Otto-Hug Radiation Institute, who operates a thyroid clinic in Gomel, Belarus, also reported in 1990 of a thirty-fold increase in cases of thyroid cancer in children. These figures have also been confirmed in other studies.




Here you see a chart of the newly occurred cases of thyroid cancer in children, adolescents and adults in Belarus. You can observe that children were affected first – and very shortly after the reactor disaster (light purple bars). This shows the particular sensitivity of the children’s thyroid glands to radiation.


The children became adolescents. Here you can see the increase in thyroid cancer under young persons (dark purple bars).


The WHO made a prognosis for the strongly radiated region around Gomel, stating that 50.000 persons who were children at the time of the reactor disaster would suffer from thyroid cancer in the future.


But the adults would also increasingly be affected. You can see the increase on the yellow bars. Overall, the sum of additional cases of thyroid cancer in Belarus alone adds up to 10.000 cases.




Here you can see a picture from the Otto-Hug thyroid clinic in Gomel. Until 2002, 70.000 patients received extensive thyroid treatment at this clinic alone. For many children and adolescents, this means the removal of their thyroid glands and the lifelong dependence on medication and medical supervision.


Thyroid cancer can in fact be treated in most cases, but only under Western medical standards, which cannot be taken for granted in the region. In many cases, the only hope lies with private donations from the West. Nobody cares for the mental effects of cancer on the affected children.




Thyroid cancer is a very rare form of cancer – under normal circumstances it constitutes less than one percent of all cancer forms. That’s also why this increase is so remarkable.


For the whole population as for risk groups – for example the Liquidators – it is also important to note the increase of inherent tumors such as breast cancer, intestinal cancer, cancer of the bladder, lung cancer and gastric cancer. Professor Alexei Okeanov from Minsk analyzed the data of 95.000 clean-up workers: the cancer rate was 20 percent higher compared to a control group that was only slightly affected.


The cancer rates increase with the rate of contamination in the soil: In the most heavily affected region of Belarus, in Gomel, the rate rose up to 55.9 percent. One can also observe a doubling of the rate of breast cancer in regions with notably high Cesium contamination. On average, women developed breast cancer 15 years earlier than usual - a similar phenomenon as with thyroid cancer.


The risk of leukemia in children in the affected regions is also three times higher than usual.




Yuri Orlov, a neurosurgeon in Kiev, registered a six-fold increase in brain tumors in infants (0-3 years old).


But in spite of all these studies: In an individual case of cancer, it cannot be proven that the cause was the exposure to radiation.


Here you can see a picture of 37 year old Michael Stankewitsch. He wears a baseball cap so that the long scar on the back of his head won’t be seen immediately. Two months ago, he underwent brain surgery to remove a tumor and now undergoes ongoing radiation treatment. “Of course the thought occurs to me that Chernobyl is to blame for that”, says the gaunt man while padding haltingly across the hospital hall of the cancer clinic in Gomel.


When the great cloud came, Stankewitsch was a student at a vocational school in Choiniki, a town, which until today, is considered heavily contaminated. The school’s headmaster sent Stankewitsch’s class to help near the reactor for three days: The young people were supposed to assist the evacuees.




But the health consequences are not restricted to the Chernobyl region. Surveys in several European countries showed a significant increase in infant mortality in the year 1987 – probably as a result of a “Cesium-effect” – and in the beginning of the 1990s probably as a result of a “Strontium-effect”. It would take too much time to go into detail on these effects at this point. For the record, studies come to the conclusion that fatalities under infants in Europe related to Chernobyl are in the magnitude of 5,000. Because of different reasons, the actual effects could be much higher.


Numerous studies also document a significant increase in malformations in many European countries. According to a German survey, 1,000 to 3,000 additional cases of malformation were registered in the contaminated region of Bavaria alone. IPPNW scientists estimate a Europe-wide number of malformations of at least 10,000.




How exposure to radiation leads to other, so called non-cancer diseases is only partly understood at this point. Further research efforts are urgently needed. The data from the region, especially on the clean-up workers and children, are disconcerting, however.

To cite an example, research showed that the Liquidators suffer under an increase of 22 percent in fatal cardiovascular affection compared to a control group. Furthermore, they suffer from a heavy increase in inflammable gastrointestinal diseases and ailments of the nervous system such as chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, schizophrenia, amnesia, and dizziness. The attending physicians identify, among others, circulatory disorder as well as cerebral alterations, detected by MRI, as possible causes. The multitude of eye diseases – from cataracts to macula degeneration and chronic conjunctivitis – of which 95 percent of the clean-up workers suffer are also believed to be caused by the circulatory disorder due to radiation exposure. Other scientists discovered premature cell ageing due to a dysfunction of the antioxidant system in the liquidators cells.


Children are also strongly affected. In 1996 in Ukraine, 70 percent of the children of afflicted parents were officially registered as sick. In comparison: in 1987, the figure was 20 percent. Children in the region of Gomel in Belarus are also very sick. From 100,000 children, 83,000 suffer from respiratory diseases, 7,000 from diseases of the nervous system and sensory organs, 7,000 from skin diseases and subcutaneous adipose tissue diseases, and 5.500 from diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. In total, the number of infant illnesses diagnosed for the first time rose by a factor of thirteen.




Taking all these scientific studies und surveys from the region in consideration, IPPNW, together with the Society for Radiation Protection, have prepared their own meta-analysis in which they merge the studies of previous years and undertake a very conservative estimate. You can obtain this analysis from the IPPNW central office in Berlin.


These are the results:

Until today, several hundred thousand liquidators have become sick.

Several ten thousand liquidators have died as a result of radiation exposure.


Until today, 10,000 cases of thyroid cancer have occurred in Belarus alone.

In total, there must be far more than of 10,000 cases.

In the future, more than 50,000 children will suffer from thyroid cancer.


Several independent studies show an accumulation of other types of solid cancer as well as leukemia in the populace. What is missing in order to get tangible figures for the whole population is an overview study. Independent researchers must be allowed access to the cancer register.


There appear to be about 10,000 additional cases of serious malformation in Europe due to Chernobyl.


About 5,000 further cases of infant mortality were registered Europe wide.


In the highly contaminated regions, the number of first time afflictions of children has risen by a factor of thirteen.


Furthermore, it was discovered that children of Liquidators and of persons living in the highly contaminated areas suffer from an alteration of the genetic makeup, the consequences of which for future generations can not be evaluated at this point.


These are very conservative estimates. The Russian Environmental Ministry states that the number of Chernobyl-induced cases of diseases amounted to 1,3 million persons before the beginning of the 1990s.




But in spite of these depressing figures: The IAEA and the WHO don’t see the cause of the dire health situation and the increase of diseases in radioactive exposure but rather in poverty, poor nutrition and the “bad lifestyle which is spreading throughout the former Soviet Union”. They further lament a “crippling fatalism” in the population.




Does this also pertain to infants? The neurosurgeons Orlov and Shaversky from Kiev report a series of 188 brain tumors in children under the age of three. This represents an increase by a factor of 5.8 since Chernobyl and can certainly not be attributed to bad lifestyle or poor nutrition. Children which were breast fed were affected in particular. This study was ignored by the IAEA and WHO.




Just as they did with other, more up to date and unquestionable pieces of research. The IAEA/WHO study relies almost exclusively on studies from 1990 to 1998. Newer, more alarming studies were completely disregarded.


But there is further criticism of the IAEA/WHO study:


Several hundred thousand people were simply overlooked: Merely 200,000 of the 600,000 to 860,000 of the liquidators were considered in the surveys.


In the study, non-cancer afflictions were left out of the computation base for the fatality figures.


Of the 9,000 cases of cancer deaths forecast in the study, the IAEA only mentioned 4,000 in its abridged report. This means that 5,000 fatalities were simply left out of the report presented to the press and the public.




Very problematic is the IAEA’s interpretation of the appearance of manifold cases of mental disorders in the affected population. According to the IAEA, this did not result from the reactor disaster but from the break-up of the Soviet Union and the subsequent mentality change in the region.


It’s being ignored that the reactor disaster of Chernobyl caused a forced migration of the population. This forced resettlement of whole villages left many of the affected people completely uprooted.


Whereas older people oftentimes stayed in their villages or returned there later, almost all young families with children left the region. The result was a negative change in the demographic structure: the birth rate continues to sink while the death rate is rising.


In turn, the absence of young people affects the social and economic development of the affected regions, which are now experiencing a lack of teachers, physicians and other specialists. These changes in the social structure of the villages, which were supposed to become new homes for the deplaced population often led to tensions between the new and the old inhabitants.


Additionally, the feeling of insecurity about the potential consequences of the accident for their own health, and that of helplessness in face of the events have had a negative effect on the minds of the people in the affected regions. All these must also be counted as consequences of Chernobyl.




All of the above mentioned facts can only lead to one conclusion: The IAEA/WHO data cannot be right. But at the same time, it’s almost impossible to determine the genuine morbidity and mortality figures. Data which is vital for on the understanding of the health consequences are being kept secret. We don’t have access to the data of the cancer register of Belarus and the national Liquidator registry. Other data is missing completely. Also, there is data which is hard to establish – like the radioactive contamination of the Liquidators.

In addition, there were considerable migrations from the affected regions to the unaffected ones which can only be partially reconstructed. Contaminated food was distributed to clean areas and clean food was distributed to contaminated areas. Certain types of  cancer and genetic effects are expected to take years and even decades until they become apparent. Whoever claims to posess final answers on the case of Chernobyl – as the IAEA does in its press release – is lying.




But what drives the IAEA and the WHO to publish figures that cannot be right? What leads them to these interpretations? Keith Baverstock, former head of the Radiation and Health Section of the WHO states that the WHO does not have many experts on, nor much interest in radiological issues, so that the staff is passed on to the IAEA. According to its charter, the central objective of the IAEA is: The worldwide promotion of the peaceful use of nuclear technology. At the same time that it is playing down the consequences of Chernobyl, the IAEA is floating a campaign on the renaissance of nuclear energy. The aim is the construction of new nuclear reactors on all continents. The conflict of interest is obvious.


This lecture actively resists being taken in by these arguments. The Chernobyl case can not and must not be closed. Chernobyl began to kill 20 years ago – and has been killing ever since - slowly and unobtrusively. It’s an accident without an end. Nobody knows exactly what burdens will befall the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the victims. A technology which has such consequences is irresponsible. Taking into account a study of the German Society for Reactor Security, the risk of a nuclear meltdown in the EU in the next 40 years lies at 16 percent.


Therfore, in addition to supporting the people in the Chernobyl region, it is important to spread the information on the consequences of this accident.