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Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(February 24, 2010) Written by Alexey Yablokov, Vassily Nesterenk and Alexey Nesterenko "Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment" is an important new publication. The senior author, Alexey Yablokov was head of the Russian Academy of Science under Gorbachev – since then he receives no support. Vassily Nesterenko, head of the Ukrainian Nuclear establishment at the time of the accident, flew over the burning reactor and took the only measurements.  In August 2009, he died as a result of radiation damage, but earlier, with help from Andrei Sakarov, was able to establish Belrad to help children of the area.

(704.) Rosalie Bertell* is reviewing the publication:

This new publication of the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (Volume 1181), by Alexey Yablokov, Vassily Nesterenko, and Alexey Nesterenko, is the elucidation many of us have been waiting for since the 1986 disaster at the failed nuclear reactor in Ukraine. Until now we have read about the published reports of limited spotty investigations by western scientists who undertook projects in the affected territories. Even the prestigious IAEA, WHO and UNSCEAR reports have been based on about 300 such western research papers, leaving out the findings of some 30,000 scientific papers prepared by scientists working and living in the stricken territories and suffering the everyday problems of residential contamination with nuclear debris and a contaminated food supply.

The three scientists who assembled the information in the book from more than 5000 published articles and research findings, mostly available only within the former Soviet Union or Eastern block countries and not accessible in the West, are prestigious scientists who present objective facts clearly nuanced with little or no polemics. They were not encumbered by a desire to promote or excessively blame a failed technology!

The book was expertly translated into readable English by Janette Sherman, Medical Toxicologist and Adjunct Professor in the Environmental Institute at Western Michigan University. 

The government of the former Soviet Union previously classified many documents now accessible to the authors. For example, we now know that the number of people hospitalized for acute radiation sickness was more than a hundred times larger than the number recently quoted by the IAEA, WHO and UNSCEAR. Unmentioned by the technocrats were the problems of “hot particles” of burning uranium that caused nasopharyngeal problems, and the radioactive fallout that resulted in general deterioration of the health of children, wide spread blood and lymph system diseases, reproductive loss, premature and small infant births, chromosomal mutations, congenital and developmental abnormalities, multiple endocrine diseases, mental disorders and cancer.

The authors systematically explain the secrecy conditions imposed by the government, the failure of technocrats to collect data on the number and distribution of all of the radionuclides of major concern, and the restrictions placed on physicians against calling any medical findings radiation related unless the patient had been a certified “acute radiation sickness” patient during the disaster, thus assuring that only 1% of injuries would be so reported..

This book is a “must read” for all of those bureaucrats currently promoting nuclear power as the only “solution” for climate change. Those who seek information on the disaster only from the official documentation provided by the IAEA, WHO and UNSCEAR need to broaden their reading to include the reality check from those scientists who have access to local findings and are simply telling the truth, with no hidden propaganda agenda. 

I was impressed by the simple message of the cover of this volume, which shows a number of felled logs with clearly distinguishable colors of wood: before and after Chernobyl. The reader will find that the environment, living plants and animals all suffered ill effects from this experience, as did the human population. It should be a sobering read for all those who have believed the fiction that “low doses of radiation are harmless”, or that a severe nuclear accident is easily contained within the human environment.

Below is the New York Academy of Sciences site for the book. Unfortunately, its selling price is now about US$150, which may limit its distribution.

 * Rosalie Bertell  Ph.D. (1929), an environmental epidemiologist, is an internationally recognized expert in the field of radiation. After the Bhopal disaster in India in 1984, Bertell directed the International Medical Commission investigating the effects of the Union Carbide chemical spill that contributed to some 15,000 deaths. After the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986, Bertell helped convene a tribunal to fight for the rights of those victims. She has written reports on everything from radiation-related health problems, experienced by the Rongelap people after bomb testing in the Marshall Islands, to the effects of the Pickering nuclear plant in Canada on the health of local children.



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Narrowing of the airways in children after low dose radiation. Children exposed to Caesium-137 released from the Chernobyl disaster fallout show signs of breathing difficulties, according to research published online this week in Environmental Health Perspectives. The research adds changes in lung function to the list of health problems associated with long-term exposure to the radiation.

Research has shown that exposure to high doses of radiation over short periods can harm the lungs. But few studies have looked at lung function changes that follow contact with radioisotopes like Caesium-137 over long periods.

Emerging Health Threats, 28 January 2010



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