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Only 50 deaths caused by Chernobyl?

Press Release by IPPNW Germany

April 6, 2006 A report published today by the physician's organisation IPPNW in Germany and the German Society for Radiation Protection contradicts the claim by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that less than 50 people died as a result of the accident at Chernobyl (see IAEA press release of September 5th 2005).

The facts presented by Dr. Sebastian Pflugbeil, President of the German Society for Radiation Protection, show that the IAEA figures contain serious inconsistencies. For instance, the IAEA claim that future fatalities due to cancer and leukaemia in the most heavily exposed groups are expected to number 4000 at the most. However, the study by the WHO, that this claim is based on, forecasts 8930 fatalities. "And when one then reviews the reference given in WHO report, one arrives at 10,000 to 25,000 additional deaths due to cancer and leukaemia", says Pflugbeil. These inconsistencies are not surprising, given the mandate of the IAEA: to promote nuclear energy. This prevents the Agency from being independent.

According to Dr. Angelika Claussen, Chair of the German affiliate of IPPNW, the point is not to contrast the "correct" numbers with the obviously false ones provided by the IAEA. These cannot be claimed to have been found due to methodical problems. Essential data on the Chernobyl catastrophe have been kept secret, both in the East and in the West. Large epidemiological studies are very expensive and only possible with state support. "It is, however, possible to provide an informative basis to show to what extent and what kinds of damage we are dealing with when we are talking about the effects of Chernobyl", says Claussen.

The IAEA is attempting to account for an evident rise in fatalities and disease by providing absurd arguments. "It is cynical, to say the least, when affected people in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia are told by the IAEA that they have a victim mentality, should feed themselves better and live more healthily", says Claussen.

The IPPNW/GfS Report "Health Effects of Chernobyl - 20 Years After the Reactor Disaster" documents the catastrophic dimensions of the reactor accident, using scientific studies, expert estimates and official data:
- 50,000 to 100,000 liquidators (clean-up workers) died in the years up to 2006. Between 540,000 and 900,000 liquidators have become invalids;
- Congenital defects found in the children of liquidators and people from the contaminated areas could affect future generations to an extent that cannot yet be estimated;
- Infant mortality has risen significantly in several European countries, including Germany, since Chernobyl. The studies at hand estimated the numberof fatalities amongst infants in Europe to be about 5000;
- In Bavaria alone, between 1000 and 3000 additional birth defects have been found since Chernobyl. It is feared that in Europe more than 10,000 severe abnormalities could have been radiation induced;
- By referring to UNSCEAR one arrives at between 12,000 and 83,000 children born with congenital deformations in the region of Chernobyl, and around 30,000 to 207,000 genetically damaged children worldwide. Only 10% of the overall expected damage can be seen in the first generation;
- In Belarus alone, over 10,000 people developed thyroid cancer since the catastrophe. According to a WHO prognosis, in the Belarussian region of Gomel alone, more than 50,000 children will develop thyroid cancer during their lives. If one adds together all age groups then about 100,000 cases of thyroid cancer have to be reckoned with, just in the Gomel region;
- Altogether, the number of Chernobyl related cases of thyroid cancer to be expected in Europe (outside the borders of the former Soviet Union) is between 10,000 and 20,000;
- In more contaminated areas of Southern Germany a significant cluster of very rare tumours has been found amongst children, so-called neuroblastomies;
- In Germany, Greece, Scotland and Romania, there has been a significant increase in cases of leukaemia;
- In a paper published by the Chernobyl Ministry in the Ukraine, a multiplication of the cases of disease was registered - of the endocrine system ( 25 times higher from 1987 to 1992), the nervous system (6 times higher), the circulation system (44 times higher), the digestive organs (60 times higher), the cutaneous and subcutaneous tissue (50 times higher), the muscolo-skeletal system and psychological dysfunctions (53 times higher). Among those evaluated, the number of healthy people sank from 1987 to 1996 from 59 % to 18%. Among inhabitants of the contaminated areas from 52% to 21% and among the children of affected parent from 81% to 30%. It has been reported for several years that type I diabetes (insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus) has risen sharply amongst children and youth.

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