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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
UN report: Chernobyl, the true scale of the accident
A total of up to 4,000 people could eventually die of radiation exposure from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant (NPP) accident nearly 20 years ago, an international team of more than 100 scientists has concluded. As of mid-2005, however, fewer than 50 deaths had been directly attributed to radiation from the disaster, almost all being highly exposed rescue workers, many who died within months of the accident but others who died as late as 2004.
The new numbers are presented in a landmark digest report, “Chernobyl’s legacy: health, environmental and socio-economic impacts”, just released by the Chernobyl Forum. The digest, based on a three-volume, 600-page report and incorporating the work of hundreds of scientists, economists and health experts, assesses the 20-year impact of the largest nuclear accident in history. The Forum is made up of eight UN specialized agencies, including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, and the World Bank, as well as the Governments of Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine.
“This compilation of the latest research can help to settle the outstanding questions about how much death, disease and economic fallout really resulted from the Chernobyl accident”, explains Dr Burton Bennett, Chairman of the Chernobyl Forum and an authority on radiation effects. “The Governments of the three most-affected countries have realized that they need to find a clear way forward, and that progress must be based on a sound consensus about environmental, health and economic consequences and some good advice and support from the international community”.