How bad could the damage be from the Japanese nuclear crisis? Here's a look back at Chernobyl, with this piece courtesy of PrisonPlanet.com:
Nearly one million people around the world died from exposure to radiation released by the 1986 nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl reactor, finds a new book from the New York Academy of Sciences published today on the 24th anniversary of the meltdown at the Soviet facility.
The book, “Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment,” was compiled by authors Alexey Yablokov of the Center for Russian Environmental Policy in Moscow, and Vassily Nesterenko and Alexey Nesterenko of the Institute of Radiation Safety, in Minsk, Belarus.
The authors examined more than 5,000 published articles and studies, most written in Slavic languages and never before available in English.
The authors said, “For the past 23 years, it has been clear that there is a danger greater than nuclear weapons concealed within nuclear power. Emissions from this one reactor exceeded a hundred-fold the radioactive contamination of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”
“No citizen of any country can be assured that he or she can be protected from radioactive contamination. One nuclear reactor can pollute half the globe,” they said. “Chernobyl fallout covers the entire Northern Hemisphere.”
Their findings are in contrast to estimates by the World Health Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency that initially said only 31 people had died among the “liquidators,” those approximately 830,000 people who were in charge of extinguishing the fire at the Chernobyl reactor and deactivation and cleanup of the site.
The book finds that by 2005, between 112,000 and 125,000 liquidators had died.
“On this 24th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, we now realize that the consequences were far worse than many researchers had believed,” says Janette Sherman, MD, the physician and toxicologist who edited the book.
Drawing upon extensive data, the authors estimate the number of deaths worldwide due to Chernobyl fallout from 1986 through 2004 was 985,000, a number that has since increased.
By contrast, WHO and the IAEA estimated 9,000 deaths and some 200,000 people sickened in 2005.
On April 26, 1986, two explosions occured at reactor number four at the Chernobyl plant which tore the top from the reactor and its building and exposed the reactor core. The resulting fire sent a plume of radioactive fallout into the atmosphere and over large parts of the western Soviet Union, Europe and across the Northern Hemisphere. Large areas in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia had to be evacuated.
Yablokov and his co-authors find that radioactive emissions from the stricken reactor, once believed to be 50 million curies, may have been as great as 10 billion curies, or 200 times greater than the initial estimate, and hundreds of times larger than the fallout from the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Nations outside the former Soviet Union received high doses of radioactive fallout, most notably Norway, Sweden, Finland, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Austria, Romania, Greece, and parts of the United Kingdom and Germany.
About 550 million Europeans, and 150 to 230 million others in the Northern Hemisphere received notable contamination. Fallout reached the United States and Canada nine days after the disaster.
The proportion of children considered healthy born to irradiated parents in Belarus, the Ukraine, and European Russia considered healthy fell from about 80 percent to less than 20 percent since 1986...
Harmless? Chernobyl Radiation Killed Nearly One Million People
Thursday, March 17, 2011