AN INDEPENDENT SCIENTIFIC EVALUATION OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS 20 YEARS AFTER THE NUCLEAR DISASTER PROVIDING CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF A RECENT REPORT BY THE INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY (IAEA) AND THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION (WHO)
AUTHORS_ Ian Fairlie, PhD, UK. David Sumner, DPhil, UK AFTERWORD_ Prof. Angelina Nyagu, Ukraine
Berlin,Brussels, Kiev, April 2006 COMMISSIONED BY_Rebecca Harms, MEP Greens/EFA in the European Parliament , WITH THE SUPPORT OF_The Altner Combecher Foundation and the Hatzfeldt-Foundation
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
On 26 April 2006, twenty years will have passed since the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded, releasing large quantities of radioactive gases and particles throughout the northernhemisphere. While the effects of the disaster remain apparent particularly in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, where millions of people are affected, Chernobyl’s fallout also seriously contaminated other areas of the world, especially Western Europe. The Other Report on Chernobyl (TORCH) provides an independent scientific examination of available data on the release of radioactivity into theenvironment and subsequent health-related effects of the Chernobyl accident. The Report also critically examines recent official reports on the impact of the Chernobyl accident, in particular two reports by the “UN Chernobyl Forum” released by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in September 2005 1 , which have received considerable attention by theinternational media. Many uncertainties surround risk estimates from radiation exposures. The most fundamental is that the effects of very low doses are uncertain. The current theory is that the relationship between dose and detrimental effect is linear without threshold down to zero dose. In other words, there is no safe level of radiation exposure. However the risk, at low doses, may be supralinear,resulting in relatively higher risks, or sublinear, resulting in relatively lower risks. Another major source of uncertainty lies in the estimates of internal radiation doses, that is, from nuclides, which are inhaled or ingested. These are important sources of the radiation from Chernobyl’s fallout. Uncertainties in internal radiation risks could be very large, varying in magnitude from factors of 2(up and down from the central estimate) in the most favourable cases, to 10 or more in the least favourable cases for certain radionuclides.
Early on April 26 1986, two explosions in Chernobyl unit 4 completely destroyed the reactor. The explosions sent large clouds of radioactive gases and debris 7 - 9 kilometres into the atmosphere. About 30% of the reactor’s 190 tons of fuelwas distributed over the reactor building and surrounding areas and about 1-2% was ejected into the atmosphere. The reactor’s inventory of radioactive gases was released at this time. The subsequent fire, fuelled by 1,700 tons of graphite moderator, lasted for eight days. This fire was the principal reason for the extreme severity of the Chernobyl disaster.
How Much Radioactivity Was Released?The World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that the total radioactivity from Chernobyl was 200 times that of the combined releases from the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The amount of radioactivity released during a radiological event, is called the ‘source term’. It is important because it is used to verify nuclide
IAEA/WHO Health Effects of the Chernobyl Accident andSpecial Health Care Programmes. Report of the UN Chernobyl Forum Expert Group “Health” (EGH) Working draft, July 26 2005. IAEA/WHO Environmental Consequences of the Chernobyl Accident and their Remediation. Report of the UN Chernobyl Forum Expert Group “Environment” (EGE) Working draft, August 2005
depositions throughout the northern hemisphere. From these, collective doses and...