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The Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe is not over.

You’ve seen the TV series, now understand the Chernobyl catastrophe is far from over.  https://www.smh.com.au/national/you-ve-seen-the-tv-series-now-understand-the-chernobyl-catastrophe-is-far-from-over-20190625-p5217u.html By Helen Caldicott, 4 July 19   It is 33 years since the radioactive accident at Chernobyl. The HBO miniseries Chernobyl has re-awakened interest in this dreadful moment in history. But Chernobyl is by no means over. And with commentators once again flagging the idea of overturning Australia’s long-standing opposition to a home-grown nuclear industry – and even suggesting our own nuclear weapons – it is timely to revisit its consequences.

The Chernobyl death toll is highly contentious, from the absurdly low 31 following the initial blast trauma to 4000 (the conclusion of a joint consortium of the United Nations and the governments of UkraineBelarus, and Russia in 2005 and 2006) to 93,000 (Greenpeace’s prediction in 2006).
However, there is the study Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment, published by the New York Academy of Sciences in 2009, which covers more than 5000 medical and epidemiological papers from the Ukraine, Russia, Europe and Britain. It was authored by three noted scientists: Russian biologist Dr Alexey Yablokov, former environmental adviser to the Russian president; Dr Alexey Nesterenko, a biologist and ecologist in Belarus; and Dr Vassili Nesterenko, a physicist and, at the time of the accident, director of the Institute of Nuclear Energy of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus.

Their book – while the subject of both positive and negative reviews, and not peer-reviewed by Western standards – concludes some 985,000 people died prematurely, mainly of cancer, as a result of the Chernobyl accident. Despite its limitations, it “is a treasure trove of data that if taken as a whole is overwhelming”, according to the noted evolutionary biologist Tim Mousseau.

Millions were initially exposed to very high doses of radiation from short-lived isotopes. But the report indicates that medical effects will continue to impact millions of exposed people because 40 per cent of the European land mass is polluted , and will remain contaminated for thousands of years by long-lived isotopes – plutonium 239, 238 and 241, americium 241, cobalt 60 and technetium 132. Parts of Turkey and Britain also received high fallout, which affected their crops and livestock.

A large body of literature now records the medical impact. In Belarus and nearby regions, 90 per cent of children were once healthy, now only 20 per cent, says the Chernobyl study. A million children still live in highly radioactive areas.

The study reports ongoing abnormalities of the immune system led to increased cases of bacterial and fungal infections, chronic joint and bone pain, osteoporosis, periodontal disease and fractures. Strontium 90 and plutonium concentrate in bones and teeth.

Premature ageing with heart attacks, hypertension, strokes and type 2 diabetes and alopecia are recorded in children. Multiple endocrine abnormalities including diabetes, hypo and hyperthyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease, as well as menstrual disorders, have increased as cesium concentrates in endocrine organs and cardiac muscle.

Intellectual retardation was recorded in babies who were in utero at the time of the accident. A noted embryologist, Wladimir Werteleki, recorded high incidences of microcephaly and microphthalmia in babies and severe neural tube defects in the Polissia region of the Ukraine related to very high levels of cesium 137 and 134 in the food eaten by pregnant women. Increased incidence of congenital cataracts, retinal pathology and adult cataracts occur in many European countries.

The Chernobyl study indicated that thyroid carcinoma arose two to four years after the accident, in Belarus increasing to 7000 cases by 2000 and, despite surgery, 30 per cent were aggressive and had metastasised. Congenital thyroid cancer in newborns also was documented.

Increases in a wide range of cancers – including stomach, colon, bladder, pancreas, breast and leukemia – are still recorded in the Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Germany, the UK, Greece, Rumania and Europe.

Many thousands of children have been born with severe teratogenic deformities and homes around the Chernobyl area house hundreds of these children.

The Chernobyl study also found that of the 830,000 mainly young men known as ‘‘liquidators’’ – who were recruited from all over the Soviet Union to help clean up the contaminated area and were exposed to massive doses of radiation –112,000 to 125,000 died within the first 19 years.

Tim Mousseau has also conducted surveys of wildlife and birds in the exclusion zones, revealing genetic and chromosomal abnormalities, sterility in male swallows, small brains, tumours, and other anatomical abnormalities.

A huge and ill-informed debate persists about how many people have died as a result of Chernobyl. Sadly, the World Health Organisation has supported the International Atomic Energy Agency, which promotes nuclear power, in the estimate of about 4000 deaths related to Chernobyl.

Much of the data is more than a decade old. There is an urgent need for further extensive epidemiological studies on the exposed populations in Russia, the Ukraine, Europe, England, Turkey and other countries, and for treatment and support to be instituted for the many thousands of victims now and in the future. Because the long-lived radiological contamination of the soil and subsequent bio-concentration of the radioactive isotopes in the food chain will continue to poison children and adults for hundreds if not thousands of years.

Dr Helen Caldicott is an Australian physician, author and founding president of Physicians for Social Responsibility, which was among the international groups of doctors awarded the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize.
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July 4, 2019 - Posted by | children, environment, health, history, Reference, Ukraine

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