Kate Brown: After Chernobyl, scientists employed by the nuclear industry asserted that the world’s worst nuclear accident killed only a couple dozen people. In an examination of more than 25 archives in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, I found that most of the official Chernobyl accounts are incomplete or misleading. Forty thousand people were hospitalized the summer after the accident from Chernobyl exposures, not the 300 Soviet officials claimed. The effect of the Chernobyl disaster on the region’s population is staggering. Radioactive contaminants migrated toward population centers in dust, water, airways and food. Thyroid disease, autoimmune disorders, anemia, and diseases of the circulation system, digestive tract and lungs increased year by year. Leukemia, pediatric thyroid cancer, and cancers of the mouth, throat and stomach followed. Belarusian and Ukrainian leaders begged the United Nations General Assembly for aid to move 200,000 more people from contaminated land, and for a long-term study on low doses of radiation on health. The aid never came. It didn’t help that other U.N. agencies, especially the International Atomic Energy Agency, asserted that increased health problems in Chernobyl-contaminated territories had nothing to do with nuclear fallout. To this day, the scientific community will say that little is known about the effects of chronic exposures to low doses of radioactivity on human health. Belarusian and Ukrainian farmers have been left to deal with the costs of the accident, not a now-defunct power company of a long-gone Soviet government. Southern California Edison shuttered the San Onofre plant, but the danger lives on. The nuclear waste storage facility sits on an erosion-prone bluff 2 feet above the mean high tide. Seismic activity often occurs, and four tsunamis hit the region between 1812 and 1930. Geologists say the potential for another tsunami is elevated in the area, which has 8.4 million people living within a 50-mile radius.
LA Times 19th Nov 2019 read more »