Chernobyl study 'negligent'

Wednesday, May 29, 1991

A study of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident by the International Atomic Energy Agency is guilty of gross negligence and scientific incompetence, according to Friends of the Earth.

The IAEA study, released May 21, concluded that the accident produced "no health disorders that could be attributed directly to radiation exposure".

FoE's analysis of report pointed out that the IAEA scientists:

l failed to investigate the health of the 600,000 "liquidators" of the accident — the soldiers and miners involved in clean-up and containment operations, who would have received the highest radiation doses of all the exposed population;

l had little or no access to pre-accident health records, leaving them unable to compare pre- and post-accident levels of disease and health disorders;

l took no account of the extent to which their "control" group contained any of the 100,000 plus people evacuated from the Chernobyl area;

l failed to acknowledge that any increase in levels of leukaemia would peak at 10 years after the accident and may not be statistically significant after five years;

l relied on official health records to assess levels of disorders, rather than physical examination of the people studied;

l failed to investigate the health of the 100,000 plus people evacuated from the Chernobyl area after the accident. (In 1986 the Soviet authorities passed Directive U2617, which dictates that "no information concerning the degree of contamination by people who took part in the liquidation of the consequences of the breakdown at the Chernobyl Power Station may be disclosed." In its report, the IAEA acknowledges only that its project did not monitor the health of these people because, it says, the Soviet authorities were "reportedly" doing so.)

Simon Roberts, FoE's energy campaigner, said, "These international nuclear experts have built concrete conclusions on very shaky research foundations. The IAEA is drawing a veil of inept science over the consequences of the world's worst nuclear accident.

"The IAEA has done the ailing reputation of the world's nuclear industry and the people of Chernobyl no favours with this substandard science." n