Chernobyl – digging deeper

Elena’s motorcycle tour through the region around Chernobyl has revived interest in one of the most serious nuclear disasters in history.

We all know what happened, but even to this day, there are many different versions and opinions on how it happened and what effect Chernobyl will have on the health of people affected by the fallout.

UPDATE:  Now you can tour Chernobyl and write your own story.

This is not a post about fault-finding or assigning blame. It is a time to learn what happened and how it may affect the future.


There was a soothing authoritative UNSCEAR (United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation ) report in 2000 on the health effects of Chernobyl confirming that there was no scientific evidence of any significant radiation-related health effects to most people exposed. This was heavily promoted by the Australasian Radiation Protection Society in a press release titled THE MYTHS OF CHERNOBYL which contained the following:

One of the most widespread myths of recent times is that the Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident in 1986 caused many thousands of extra cancer deaths in neighbouring regions, and that public health has been severely affected by exposure to radiation.

Many people still believe that to be true, even though the Ministry of Russian Federation on Civil Defence, Emergencies and Elimination of Conseguences of Natural Disasters (EMERCOM of Russia) reported this in 1996:

In the last decade, there has been a real and significant increase in childhood and, to a certain extent, adult carcinoma of the thyroid in contaminated regions of the former Soviet Union (Wi940) which should be attributed to the Chernobyl accident until proven otherwise.

The prestigious IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) published an early report on Chernobyl which was based on information from Russian sources and stated that there was no significant health effects. However, in April 2001, the IAEA published Fifteen Years after the Chernobyl Accident – Lessons learned. which contradict the earlier reports.

Here are some excerpts:

The dramatic increase in radiation-induced thyroid cancers in children and adolescents in Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine, which have been observed since 1991, continues to this day.

…a drop in the birth rate, a deterioration in women’s reproductive health, an increase in complications during pregnancy and birth, and a deterioration in neonatal health….

The dynamics of change in the state of health of children affected by the Chernobyl accident in all three countries – Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine – in the post-accident period is characterized by persistent negative tendencies: the morbidity rate is going up, the number of really healthy children is dropping, and disability is increasing.

As a parent, I can well imagine how painful it must be for those families whose children are succumbing to radiation poisoning.

There is a lot to learn about Chernobyl. Being well-informed will give you certainty and that is desirable in a world of conflicting reports. There are a wealth of references on Chernobyl. Read some of the following links and draw your own conclusions.

These links present the many viewpoints that existed and still exist about the disaster called Chernobyl:

IAEA Report Lessons learned

I would be interested in hearing what conclusions you reached and what you found that was most convincing.

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