Chernobyl may have killed 1000 British babies - UN accused of ignoring 500,000 Chernobyl deaths

Annya is a 15 year-old cancer victim. It was 20 years ago this month that a nuclear reactor in the Ukraine melted down spewing deadly radiation over her hometown. A cancerous brain tumour at the age of four marked the end of Annya's childhood and the beginning of a life of pain and illness. Annya, is now bed-ridden, and has spent her life in and out of hospital, between tumours and life support. Over 7000 people have joined our anniversary call for an end to nuclear power. Please add your voice: no more Chernobyls: //prefs.greenpeace.org/mail-links/clicks/19048.2436867.5409

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Chernobyl may have killed 1000 British babies according to British expert

"There have been 4000 cases of thyroid cancer, mainly in children, but that except for nine deaths, all of them have recovered. "Otherwise, the team of international experts found no evidence for any increases in the incidence of leukemia and cancer among affected residents."

As about quarter of people die from spontaneous cancer not caused by Chernobyl radiation, the radiation-induced increase of only about 3% will be difficult to observe.

Repacholi concludes that “the health effects of the accident were potentially horrific, but when you add them up using validated conclusions from good science, the public health effects were not nearly as substantial as had at first been feared.”

Iris Atzmon


----- Original Message -----
From: Mona Nilsson
To: Iris Atzmon
Sent: Thursday, March 23, 2006 12:41 PM
Subject: Chernobyl may have killed 1000 British babies according to British expert

Thursday, 23rd March 2006, 08:59
Category: Healthy Living LIFE STYLE EXTRA

(UK) - More than 1,000 British babies may have died as a result of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster 20 years ago, an expert claims today (thur).

On the eve of the 20th anniversary of the tragedy, health records show infant deaths increased in the years after the Ukrainian reactor explosion in April 1986.

And the biggest rise in deaths - babies under one year old - was in areas where radioactive rain had fallen, he said.

In contaminated areas, including Bradford and Leicester, infant deaths increased by 11 per cent during the years 1986 to 1989, and in other areas rose by 4 per cent.

This was at a time when infant mortality had been falling by an average four per cent a year.

In the days that followed the nuclear disaster, in which an explosion tore the roof off one of the four reactors at the Soviet power station, large clouds of radiation swept westwards across northern Europe, including Scandinavia, France and the UK.

Epidemiologist and statistician John Urquhart, who carried out the research, said the Met Office tracked several plumes of the radiation moving across Britain, and radioactive particles fell as 'black rain' when the plumes met the patchy rain clouds overhead that day.

This meant showery parts of the country were contaminated much more than dry areas. In most places the contamination hung around for only a few weeks, but the highlands of Wales and Cumbria had very heavy rainfall that day and sheep farmers there are still living with the radioactive dust in the soil.

Mr Urquhart, a former advisor at a Cambridge University research unit, examined more than 50,000 infant deaths from all causes in the UK between 1983 and 1992 and compared mortality rates in different districts.

He found that a map showing highest mortality almost exactly matched a Met Office map of contaminated areas.

In the most radioactive areas, which also included Merseyside, Bristol, Northern Ireland and parts of Essex, infant mortality was more than 11 per cent higher in the years 1986 to 1989 than in the preceding years.

Mr Urquhart said the result was "highly significant" and the chance that the increases were due to random fluctuations was about 1 in 4,000.

He said: "The long term trend of infant mortality was declining at about 4 per cent per annum, but that was interrupted by Chernobyl."

As well as the national variations, there were very noticeable regional differences, he said.

For instance, Yorkshire received hardly any radioactive fallout, apart from in the very far west. And infant deaths in Bradford were higher than in the rest of the county.

He also found significant increases in 'neo-natal deaths' - babies up to 28 days old - which account for roughly half of all infant deaths. Neo-natal deaths rose by 4 per cent in contaminated areas but fell by 5 per cent in unaffected areas.

When he looked at just cot deaths, he found huge rises in some affected areas - 50 per cent in Bristol, 60 per cent in Liverpool and 90 per cent in Cumbria - although this is based on a relatively small number of deaths.

Mr Urquhart, presenting his findings at the Nuclear Free Local Authorities conference at City Hall in London, said there was clearly some "malign influence" causing these "excess" deaths but apart from the radiation there was no factor that applied only to the contaminated areas.

He said: "The question is, is that malign influence due to some disease affecting the population or is it due to Chernobyl?

"But the malign influence was three times stronger in the radioactive areas."

Earlier research has shown that an increase in northern England of thyroid cancer, associated with radioactive iodine, was probably due to Chernobyl fallout.

But Mr Urquhart said no scientist has looked for a link to infant deaths before because their 'models' predicted no effect from the level of radiation found in Britain after Chernobyl.

He said these models were based on a study of the aftermath of Hiroshima, with a much smaller population, and the effect is only noticeable when looking at many thousands of infant deaths.

He said: "There's going to be a big controversy about this paper because people have been trundling along for the last 50 years saying radiation isn't dangerous.

"These observations have got to pose a challenge to the scientific establishment."

He called for more studies in other European countries and changes to the way governments plan for nuclear emergencies.

Copyright © 2006 National News +44(0)207 684 3000

//www.lse.co.uk/ShowStory.asp?story=YW2323740Q&news_headline=chernobyl_killed_1000_british_babies

Here is the WHO/Repacholi view: //www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2005/pr38/en/index.html

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UN accused of ignoring 500,000 Chernobyl deaths

Atomic agency says toll will not exceed 4,000
Doctors 'overwhelmed' by cancers and mutations

John Vidal, environment editor Saturday March 25, 2006

//www.guardian.co.uk/frontpage/story/0,,1739394,00.html

United Nations nuclear and health watchdogs have ignored evidence of deaths, cancers, mutations and other conditions after the Chernobyl accident, leading scientists and doctors have claimed in the run-up to the nuclear disaster's 20th anniversary next month.

In a series of reports about to be published, they will suggest that at least 30,000 people are expected to die of cancers linked directly to severe radiation exposure in 1986 and up to 500,000 people may have already died as a result of the world's worst environmental catastrophe.

But the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and World Health Organisation say that only 50 deaths can be directly attributed to the disaster, and that, at most, 4,000 people may eventually die from the accident on April 26 1986.

They say only nine children have died of thyroid cancers in 20 years and that the majority of illnesses among the estimated 5 million people contaminated in the former Soviet Union are attributable to growing poverty and unhealthy lifestyles.

An IAEA spokesman said he was confident the UN figures were correct. "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."

The new estimates have been collated by researchers commissioned by European parliamentary groups, Greenpeace International and medical foundations in Britain, Germany, Ukraine, Scandinavia and elsewhere. They take into account more than 50 published scientific studies.

"At least 500,000 people - perhaps more - have already died out of the 2 million people who were officially classed as victims of Chernobyl in Ukraine," said Nikolai Omelyanets, deputy head of the National Commission for Radiation Protection in Ukraine. "[Studies show] that 34,499 people who took part in the clean-up of Chernobyl have died in the years since the catastrophe. The deaths of these people from cancers was nearly three times as high as in the rest of the population.

"We have found that infant mortality increased 20% to 30% because of chronic exposure to radiation after the accident. All this information has been ignored by the IAEA and WHO. We sent it to them in March last year and again in June. They've not said why they haven't accepted it."

Evgenia Stepanova, of the Ukrainian government's Scientific Centre for Radiation Medicine, said: "We're overwhelmed by thyroid cancers, leukaemias and genetic mutations that are not recorded in the WHO data and which were practically unknown 20 years ago."

The IAEA and WHO, however, say that apart from an increase in thyroid cancer in children there is no evidence of a large-scale impact on public health. "No increases in overall cancer incidence or mortality that could be associated with radiation exposure have been observed," said the agencies' report in September.

In the Rivne region of Ukraine, 310 miles west of Chernobyl, doctors say they are coming across an unusual rate of cancers and mutations. "In the
30 hospitals of our region we find that up to 30% of people who were in highly radiated areas have physical disorders, including heart and blood diseases, cancers and respiratory diseases. Nearly one in three of all the newborn babies have deformities, mostly internal," said Alexander Vewremchuk, of the Special Hospital for the Radiological Protection of the Population in Vilne.

Figures on the health effects of Chernobyl have always been disputed. Soviet authorities covered up many of the details at the time. The largest radiation doses were received by the 600,000 people involved in the clean-up, many drawn from army conscripts all over the Soviet Union.

Backstory

The worst nuclear accident in history took place on April 26 1986 when one of the four reactors at the Chernobyl complex 80 miles north of Kiev in Ukraine began to fail. Operators shut down the system, but a large chemical explosion followed a power surge and the 1,000-tonne cover blew off the top of the reactor. Design flaws in the cooling system were blamed for the accident, in which 31 people were killed immediately. The worst-affected area was Belarus, which took the brunt of the 4% of the 190 tonnes of uranium dioxide in the plant that escaped. Ukraine was also contaminated. Some 600,000 workers (mainly volunteers) who took part in recovery and clean-up operations were exposed to high levels of radiation; the Soviet government first suppressed news of the incident, but evacuated local people within a few days. Five million people were exposed to radiation in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, and there was a dramatic increase in thyroid cancer among children living there.

Special report The nuclear industry //www.guardian.co.uk/nuclear/0,,181325,00.html

Useful links

British Energy //www.british-energy.com/
Department of Trade and Industry //www.dti.gov.uk/
British Nuclear Fuels Ltd //www.bnfl.co.uk/website.nsf/default.htm Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament //www.cnduk.org/
Greenpeace //www.greenpeace.org/homepage/
HSE nuclear glossary //www.hse.gov.uk/nsd/ilrwglos.htm
Come Clean WMD awareness programme //www.comeclean.org.uk UK atomic energy authority //www.ukaea.org.uk/
National Radiological Protection Board //www.nrpb.org.uk/
Friends of the Earth //www.foe.co.uk/campaigns/climate/press_for_change/dump_nuclear/index.html World Nuclear Association //www.uilondon.org/
World Nuclear Transport Institute //www.wnti.co.uk


Informant: Teresa Binstock

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