Thursday, March 30, 2006

UN and parliamentary scientists argue over aftermath of Chernobyl

A group of European scientists argue that at least 130 times more people may ultimately die from the effects of the Chernobyl nuclear accident than the United Nations estimates, according to an article published in the Guardian newspaper on Saturday.

In a series of reports that will soon be published, the scientists, who were commissed by European parliamentary groups, medical foundations and Greenpeace International, claim that over 500,000 people already have died from the effects of the 1986 disaster and that another 30,000 are expected to die from cancer-related deaths. They have based their estimates on over 50 scientific studies, according to the Guardian.

The UN attributes only 50 deaths so far and estimates that 4,000 people may ultimately die, according to a 2005 statement by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency. An IAEA spokesperson told the Guardian,"We have a wide scientific consensus of 100 leading scientists. When we see or hear of very high mortalities we can only lean back and question the legitimacy of the figures. Do they have qualified people? Are they responsible? If they have data that they think are excluded then they should send it."

Nikolai Omelyanets, deputy head of the National Commission for Radiation Protection in Ukraine, says that they sent this data to the UN twice last year. "They've not said why they haven't accepted it," he told the Guardian.

Next month marks the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl accident, which occurred 80 miles north of Kiev in the Ukraine when there was a steam explosion in one of four reactors that led to a fire, a number of additional explosions, and eventually a nuclear meltdown.


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