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October 28, 2020

Ukraine marks 26 years since Chernobyl disaster

26 years ago there was an explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Whole regions in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus have become unfit for life, and the number of victims has reached one million people today. And experts are still disputing about long-term consequences of the disaster.The radiation effects of the April 26, 1986, reactor explosion were about 400 times more potent than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima during World War II, and nearly 14 times greater than the disaster last year at the Fukushima plant in Japan.Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus have been burdened with the continuing and substantial decontamination and health care costs of the Chernobyl accident. A report of the International Atomic Energy Agency, examines the environmental consequences of the accident. Estimates of the number of deaths that will eventually result from the accident vary enormously; these disparities reflect both the lack of solid scientific data and the different methodologies used to quantify mortality – whether the discussion is confined to specific geographical areas or extends worldwide, and whether the deaths are immediate, short term, or long term. Thirty one deaths are directly attributed to the accident, all among the reactor staff and emergency workers.According  to some estimates,  estimates that the eventual death toll could reach 4,000 among those exposed to the highest levels of radiation (200,000 emergency workers, 116,000 evacuees and 270,000 residents of the most contaminated areas); this figure includes some 50 emergency workers who died of acute radiation syndrome, nine children who died of thyroid cancer and an estimated total of 3940 deaths from radiation-induced cancer and leukemia.The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that, among the hundreds of millions of people living in broader geographical areas, there will be 50,000 excess cancer cases resulting in 25,000 excess cancer deaths. For this broader group, the 2006 TORCH report predicts 30,000 to 60,000 excess cancer deaths, and a Greenpeace report puts the figure at 200,000 or more.

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