Chernobyl effect 'underplayed'

2006-04-11 16:02

Kiev - A United Nations report on the 1986 Chernobyl disaster has underestimated effects from the accident, said an environmentalist's study, released in Kiev on Tuesday ahead of the 20th anniversary of the disaster.

Rebecca Harms, a German Green MP in the European parliament, commissioned the study "The Other Report on Chernobyl" (Torch) after a UN report said up to 4 000 people could die in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine as a result of the world's worst civilian nuclear accident.

Harms said: "We commissioned Torch to counterbalance claims made by the International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA) which played down the lethal consequences of the nuclear accident at Chernobyl, and failed to make a meaningful analysis of its wider effects on Europe and the world.

"There must be no mistaking the catastrophic dangers that are still very much associated with nuclear power."

'Cancer deaths cannot be known'

The Greens' study said fallout from the accident - on April 26 1986 - affected many European countries.

The report read: "The largest concentrations of volatile nuclides and fuel particles happened in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.

"But, more than half of the total quantity of Chernobyl's volatile inventory was deposited outside these countries."

The study said the number of cancer deaths resulting from the accident "most likely will never be fully known", but could be as high as 30 000 to 60 000.

The Green study is the latest criticism levelled at the UN's report, released last September under the aegis of the IAEA and the World Health Organisation.

Environmentalists and groups opposed to nuclear energy say the IAEA had downplayed the affects from the Chernobyl disaster to justify the continued use of nuclear energy.

Sacophagus over reactor

The Chernobyl disaster was caused by the explosion of a nuclear power plant north of Kiev in what was then the Soviet Union.

The explosion sent a radioactive cloud across Europe.

A concrete sarcophagus was built over the reactor after the explosion.

The construction of a new 20 000-ton steel case to cover the whole plant is planned between 2008 and 2009.

The power station was completely shut down in 2000.

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