Thursday, November 18, 2004

Belarus is Rebuilidng on Top of Chernobyl Radiation

As the need for more energy from global warming friendly technology grows, we need to take a look at Nuclear again. Part of this discussion should be about just how bad nuclear waste is. We need to get perspective on it. Instead of saying that radiation causes cancer, we need to say that a prolonged exposure to low doses of radiation is the equivalent of smoking 1/2 pack of cigarettes a day. This isn't nearly as scary.

So why can't we get good data from the Chernobyl region about how bad the effects of radiation are? This article is a start.

In all, 7 million people in the former Soviet republics of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine are believed to have suffered medical problems as a result of the April 25, 1986, accident. In Ukraine, more than 2.32 million people, including 452,000 children, have been treated for radiation-linked illnesses, including thyroid and blood cancer and cancerous growths, according to Ukrainian health officials.
Interesting stat, but how many of them had serious life altering illnesses or were killed? And could we compare these illnesses to those that are caused by burning coal for electricity? The air pollution and mercury caused by coal are bad too, but they aren't as scary as radiation.
Nikolai Nagorny, director of the International Committee of the Red Cross' Chernobyl program, said that cases of thyroid cancer -- one of the few radiation-related illnesses that has been well studied around Chernobyl -- have skyrocketed among children in Belarus' affected regions, from just two cases of thyroid cancer before the accident to at least 1,000 in the 10 years after.
Yes, the rate of thyroid cancer has skyrocketed, but it is still only 100 people per year. And thyroid cancer is not usually fatal. You need to have your thyroid removed and you are put on iodine pills for the rest of your life. Compare this with the number of people that are maimed each year from automobile accidents. Or what is happening in Iraq right now.

via North County Times

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