Chernobyl 25 Impact of Chernobyl Facts & Figures

Chernobyl 25
26 April 2011
Impact of Chernobyl
Facts & Figures
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The Chernobyl Disaster
On that fateful day, 26 April 1986 at 01:23 the world changed forever when
Reactor 4 suffered a catastrophic power increase, leading to explosions in its
core. Adi Roche reacted immediately and has been active ever since. Then in
1991, Adi went onto found Chernobyl Children International (CCI) on receipt of a
fax message which was to change her life – ‘SOS appeal. For God’s sake help
us to get the children out’.
Little did Adi Roche imagine how her life would change after she received this
fax, how immersed and intertwined she would become with the Chernobyl story.
Her response was immediate and that following summer she coordinated and
organised the first group of Chernobyl children to arrive in Ireland for
recuperative holidays and CCI was founded in an effort to help alleviate the
suffering and to offer hope to those most affected by the Chernobyl explosion,
namely the children of Belarus, Western Russia and the Ukraine.
What makes Chernobyl relevant today?
Twenty five years on, the catastrophic ramifications of Chernobyl’s nuclear
disaster continue to affect millions – especially children – in Belarus, Ukraine and
Western Russia. A new UN Report now states that Chernobyl released over 400
times (and not 100 times as originally quoted) the amount of radiation that was
released in the Hiroshima bombing and 50% of the radionuclides were dispersed
eventually around the planet.
In Belarus, two million people, of whom 500,000 are children are high-risk, still
live in heavily contaminated zones of between 1 and 40 curies per square
Since 1986 thousands of children and adults still live with the social, economic
and medical deprivation as a result of what happened 25 years ago. Over 7
million people’s lives changed forever on that fateful day. 4.5 million children and
adults continue to live on contaminated land.
The fire burned for 10 full days and released 190 tons of radioactive materials
into the environment. Twenty-five years have passed since the world sat riveting
in front of television screens, watching the horror unfold. Over time, Chernobyl
has faded to become a distant memory for most of us—something that happened
a long time ago and no longer has power or relevance.
But the truth is different.
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Chernobyl still has the power to harm
Chernobyl continues to devastate the health and the economies of communities
of Belarus, Western Russia and Ukraine.
The United Nations estimates that an area of approximately 150,000 square
miles has been contaminated, with 70 percent of the radiation falling on the
population of Belarus. Between the stricken regions of Belarus, western Russia
and Northern Ukraine, the UN estimates that the fallout has directly and indirectly
affected as many as seven million people, with children being most vulnerable to
the deadly effects of radiation and inadequate medical treatment.
A new generation struggles to live in the shadow of
A new generation has been born into the most toxic environment in the world,
and they are paying the price with their fragile bodies. Birth defects have
increased by 200 percent in affected areas, and congenital deformities have
increased by 250 percent. Chernobyl’s children carry genetic markers whose
long-term effects no one can predict, and the consequences of ongoing
radioactive contamination will not be fully seen for another 50 years.
Don’t let the world forget these children
On the 25th anniversary of the disaster, please join us in keeping hope alive for
the children of Chernobyl. Don’t let their story be forgotten, and their plight
ignored. Learn about the nuclear meltdown and how it continues to affect the
lives of a new generation. Read the stories of people who lived through the
meltdown—and the stories of those who continue to live with its awful legacy.
Find out what compassionate and dedicated volunteers are doing to bring hope
to dying communities. And discover what you can do to make a difference
Impacts of Chernobyl – Chernobyl Factsheet
The impact of the Chernobyl disaster continues to adversely affect the lives of
the people in the region. One million children are condemned to live in an
environment contaminated by radionuclides as a result of Chernobyl.
Environmental Impact – environment, food and land
“Radiation knows no territorial boundaries, it doesn’t apply for an entry or an exit
visa, it travels wherever the winds take it. At 1.23 am on 26 April 1986 a silent
war was declared against the innocent peoples of Belarus, Western Russia and
Northern Ukraine. A war in which they could not see the enemy, a war in which
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they could send no standing army, a war in which there was no weapon, no
antidote, no safe haven, no emergency exit. Why?Because the enemy was
invisible, the enemy was radiation.”
- Adi Roche
“This earth is sacred, the earth of my ancestors; this earth is my soul; take me
from the earth and you take my soul.”
- A man living illegally in the deserted village of Lipa, explaining his refusal to leave his
Fukushima – parallels with Chernobyl remind the world that even
exposure to low level ionizing radiation is unsafe.
Contamination of food chain – 25 years on, the Chernobyl zone remains
even more radioactive than previously thought, according to new research issued
by the American Geophysical Union. The half-life of Caesium 137 to decay is
normally 30 years, but now scientists believe that it will take between 180 – 320
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years for caesium to disappear from the local environment. Over 7 million people
still live in contaminated zones confined to eating contaminated food.
Land contamination – The contamination of the land remains the biggest
health threat as caesium 137 finds its way via the food chain into the human
body. Professor Yuri Bandashevsky, Director, Gomel Medical Institute states that
there should be no caesium in the body or should there be no question of
temporary or acceptable levels.
There is severe contamination on forest floors due to the filtering effect of
radiation stored in leaves, needles and roots. In the coming decades it will also
accumulate in the wood of the trees.
Radioactivity has accumulated in the upper soil layer and as a result
Belarus has lost practically a quarter of its most fertile agricultural land.
There is a very real risk that waste from these sites could contaminate the
water table on which 40 million people in the Ukraine are reliant.
There is constant danger of secondary contamination of the soil by
airborne radio-nuclides which occur in dust storms, bush/brush fires in forests,
and on peat beds, as substantial amounts of radioactive material locked in soil or
vegetation is released into the atmosphere and transported across large tracts of
Evacuees - since the original disaster in 1986 over 400,000 people have
already been relocated from the devastated areas. They have become
environmental refugees. The area they left is now a radiation desert composed of
depopulated no-go areas covering many thousands of hectares, fenced off with
barbed wire. It is a haunting monument to humanity’s destructive capability.
Deserted towns and villages – over 2,000 towns and villages were
evacuated and bulldozed to the ground; and hundreds more stand eerily silent
and uninhabited. This situation will continue forever.
Water contamination - In addition to rainfall, the rivers that carried the
radiation on their surfaces for days after the accident, that there is now the added
dilemma posed by contamination via river networks, lakes, ponds and dams.
Water contamination is a problem in the case of strontium as it is more mobile
than caesium and readily soluble in water, making it more difficult to track.
Groundwater – Radiation is concentrated in sediments at the bottoms of
lakes and ponds.
The average concentration of radio-nuclides in the
groundwater has risen 10- to 100-fold.
The pathway of radiation to the human body is externally through the food
from the soil, from swimming and fishing (particularly with bottom feeding fish as
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they are heavily contaminated) in the lakes/rivers/ponds, from the food of both
the water and the land and through the drinking water.
The Sarcophagus
‘The next Chernobyl will be Chernobyl itself’
The Chernobyl Sarcophagus – The unstable Chernobyl sarcophagus is
perilously close to collapse. Only 3% of the reactor’s lethal material was
expelled in the initial accident in 1986, leaving 97% within the unstable
sarcophagus. The next Chernobyl could be Chernobyl itself unless a new
shelter is completed but an additional $1 million dollars is urgently needed.
The structure that will eventually stabilise and cover the present
sarcophagus is the largest project in the history of engineering and will be
23 stories high. This urgent work (on the New Safe Containment structure)
has been repeatedly delayed. CCPI appeals to the Ukrainian government to
complete the project as scheduled by the end of 2012, before the reactor
decays further and poses an even graver threat to the whole of Europe.
An additional $1 billion dollars is now needed to complete the New Safe
Confinement structure to render the Chernobyl site safe. After many delays
and budgetary difficulties, the crumbling sarcophagus is in even more
danger of collapse
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Twenty thousand tons of concrete floor is about to collapse into what can
only be described as a mix of radioactive lava and dust.
There are 740,000 cubic metres of lethally contaminated debris inside the
sarcophagus, which is ten times more than was previously thought.
Locked inside lies 30 tons of highly contaminated dust, 16 tons of uranium
and plutonium and 200 tons of radioactive lava.
Medical Impact:
• In Belarus today, 85% of the children in contaminated areas are ill; before the
explosion, this figure was 15%. (The Belarusian National Academy of Sciences).
The National Academy also estimates 93,000 deaths and 270,000 cancers. The
Ukrainian National Commission for Radiation Protection calculates 500,000
deaths so far.
• Doctors at the Children’s Cancer Hospital in Minsk, Belarus and at the Vilne
Hospital for Radiological Protection in Ukraine are seeing a spike in cancer rates,
mutations and blood diseases among their patients, with a direct link to the
Chernobyl disaster 25 years on
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• Cardiac abnormalities – Through Professor Bandashevky’s research, he
discovered that incorporation of even a small amount of caesium has the effect of
modifying the organs, including the heart. He discovered a life-threatening heart
disorder called caesium cardiomyopathy, commonly known as ‘Chernobyl Heart’.
• Thyroid cancers – The State-appointed Belarusian Chernobyl Committee
predicts that there will be a further 15,000 new thyroid cancers in the next five
decades. Professor Lengfelder, University of Munich estimates that there will be
50,000 people in the coming years contract thyroid cancer based on the number
of children exposed at the time of the disaster.
• Significant rise in all types of cancer – New York Academy of Sciences
recent research shows a significant rise in all types of cancer causing thousands
of deaths, an increase in infant and perinatal mortality, a growing number of
deformities and genetic abnormalities, delayed mental development,
neuropsychological illness, blindness, and diseases of the respiratory,
cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, urogenital and endocrine systems.
Many radioactive elements appear to have the same composition as the
natural and vital minerals that our bodies need. For example:
Plutonium is the most toxic substance man has ever produced, and it does
not exist in nature. The body treats it as iron, due to the chemical similarity. It
gets distributed by the blood system to feed growing cells. It can cause a
variety of cancers and blood disorders.
Caesium-137 is mistaken by the body as potassium, which is needed by
every living cell. It then concentrates in the muscles. It is responsible for most
of the radiation exposure received by the people in the three countries.
Iodine-131 is absorbed by the thyroid gland, which cannot determine whether
it is natural or radioactive iodine. The thyroid gland makes important
hormones to help the body function. Iodine 131 causes cancer and other
disorders in the thyroid gland.
Strontium-90 – The body is fooled into accepting this element as calcium. It
gets distributed throughout the bone structure and can cause leukaemia and
a number of cancers, along with numerous other health problems.
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Economic Impact
Economic Impact of the disaster – it is estimated that by 2015, the fallout
from the disaster will have cost Belarus $235 billion, or the equivalent of 32
annual budgets.
Belarusian land, formerly known as the ‘breadbasket of Russia’ is now
poisoned with contamination from the fallout. A total of 480,000 hectares of
farming land, including 230,000 hectares of arable land, have been withdrawn
from agricultural production.
The rural poor in the most contaminated regions are left with no choice but
to eat locally grown agricultural produce
Compensation and subsistence payments to evacuees are woefully
inadequate. The state contribution to the evacuees is known as “coffin money” –
one evacuee, an old woman, receives a mere $5 a month, and was given just $5
compensation for her land and all her possessions she had to leave behind.
Social Impact
Refugees – Overnight 400,000 people became environmental refugees.
2,000 towns and villages were deserted and bull-dozed into the ground
General Facts about the impact of the disaster:
Chernobyl released 400 times that of the combined releases from the
atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki
The UN estimates that 7 million people in the three countries of the Ukraine,
Belarus and Western Russia were affected by this disaster, half of which are
The 7 million people living in the affected areas have received the highest
known exposure to radiation in the history of the atomic age
About 5.5 million people (across Belarus, Ukraine and Western Russia) including more than a million children - continue to live in contaminated zones
70 per cent of the total fallout was deposited on Belarus
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At the time of the accident, 2.2 million people lived in the affected areas of
Belarus alone. 99% of the land mass of Belarus was contaminated; 22% with
long-term contamination
Some Medical facts:
National Academy of Sciences – health radiation experts advise that most
cancers resulting from radiation exposure does not develop until up to 30 years
after exposure. The highest incidence of cancer has yet to emerge and therefore
no accurate assessment can be made until this period has expired (US National
Academy of Sciences)
30,000-60,000 excess cancers deaths predicted worldwide, 7-15 times the
figure released by CFR (TORCH 2006)
1,000% increase in the incidence of cancer and leukaemia
300% increase in oncology illnesses among children in Ukraine since 1986
(Ministry of Health, Ukraine)
200% increase in birth defects since 1986 according to experts from the
University of Hiroshima analysed data on newly born babies of 30,000 stillborn
foetuses in Belarus (UPI wire report July 1994)
200% increase in breast cancer (Belarus Dept of Health)
The US Academy of Sciences has stated that even low dose exposure to
ionising radiation can cause cancer
55-60% of all deaths are attributable to cardiovascular disease
40% increase in all kinds of cancers in Belarus between 1990 and 2000
(Swiss Medical Weekly)
Thyroid cancer – 2,400% increase in the rates of thyroid cancer in Belarus
(WHO). In the Gomel region of Belarus, the region closest to Chernobyl, there
has been a 100-fold increase in thyroid cancer. WHO predicts 50,000 children
will develop the disease in this region alone. The normal rate of thyroid cancer
would be only one in a million
1 in 4, or 25% of all infants in Belarus will develop thyroid abnormalities.
The normal rate of thyroid cancer would be only one in a million. In the years
before 1986, less than one case of thyroid cancer was recorded. It is the children
and teenagers today that are most at risk of developing thyroid cancer. Iodine
131 in the mother’s body crosses the placental barrier and penetrates the foetus
where it predominantly accumulates in the thyroid, to develop into a potential
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killer over the next few years. Thyroid tumours cause be radiation are very
aggressive and once it spreads to other parts of the body it can often be difficult
to treat. (Dr. Demidchik of the Thyroid Tumour Clinic in Minsk (capital of Belarus)
Liquidators – in one decade 40,000 liquidators died, men in their 30s and
40s; the US death toll in Vietnam after 12 years of involvement was 50,000
Other Diseases in Children – In addition to thyroid cancer and leukaemia,
UNICEF reports that between 1990 and 1994, nervous system disorders
increased by 43%; cardiovascular diseases by 43%; bone and muscle disorders
by 62%; and diabetes by 28%.
Child Oncology – oncology cases in children has risen by 300% since
1986 (Ministry of Health, Ukraine). Children are most at risk as they receive 5-6
times more radioactivity than adults due to smaller weight, height and more
active metabolism.
Other Cancers: Swiss Medical Weekly recently published findings showing
a 40% increase in all kinds of cancers in Belarus between 1990 and 2000.
Tumour specialists fear that a variety of new cancers will only emerge 20-30
years after the disaster and the incidence may not peak for a further 50 years.
Cases of breast cancer doubled between 1988 and 1999.
In its 1995 report, the United Nations assessed the impact of the disaster on the
children of Belarus. Among its findings were the following UNICEF statistics:
25% increase in congenital heart and circulatory diseases
38% increase in malignant tumours
43% increase in disorders of the nervous system and sensory organs
43% increase in blood circulation diseases
62% increase in disorders of the bone, muscle and connective tissue
Birth Defects: Maternal exposure to radiation can cause severe organ and
brain damage in an unborn child. Five years after the disaster, the Ukrainian
Ministry of Health reported three times the normal rate of deformities and
developmental abnormalities in newborn children, as well as in increased number
of miscarriages, premature births, and stillbirths.
Genetic Mutations: Hereditary defects in Belarusian newborns increased
in the years after the disaster. Scientists have observed that congenital and
hereditary defects have passed on to the next generation, as young people
exposed to radiation grow up and have their own children.
Cardiac Abnormalities: Heart disease in Belarus has quadrupled since
the accident, caused by the accumulation of radioactive caesium in the cardiac
muscle. Doctors report a high incidence of multiple defects of the heart – a
condition coined ‘Chernobyl Heart.’
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‘Chernobyl Heart’: Doctors report a high incidence of multiple defects of
the heart – a condition coined ‘Chernobyl Heart.’ Today in Belarus over 7000
children await treatment for ‘Chernobyl Heart.’ The country’s health services,
already stretched to breaking point, are unable to respond to this growing
problem. As a result the waiting list continues to grow. In addition, it is estimated
that 800 to 1000 new-born infants are added to this list each year. Without
intervention most of the children on the waiting list can look forward to a very
short life span. Many of them will die within 3 to 5 years.
2011, Chernobyl Consequences
The New York Academy of Sciences Annals (a collection of 6,000 previously
unpublished papers on the effects of Chernobyl) states that there is no ‘safe
dose’ or threshold dose of radiation. Far from being relegated to ‘history’ the
accident continues to affect millions. The uncertainty of the outcome continues.
Only with the passage of time, and additional research, will we understand the
full extent of the impact of the Chernobyl disaster on the health of those in the
affected regions.
Some Recent Studies
1. Chernobyl affects could last for centuries
Almost 25 years after the chernobyl disaster a series of new scientific studies say
that the effects have been underestimated. Scientists in 2010 published
information that, contradicting previous claims, animal populations are declining
in the exclusion zone and that radiation contamination effects following the
explosion had been "overwhelming". The german government reported that
compensation payouts were made to hunters capturing radioactive wild boar with
high levels of caesium.
This came just months after doctors in the ukraine and belarus said they had
seen a rise in cancer rates, mutations and blood diseases in patients they believe
are linked to chernobyl. And a separate US study by Dr Wladimir Wertelecki
claimed there had been a rise in birth defects thought to be linked to continuing
exposure to low-level radiation doses.
A variety of international studies show that people will be living with the
devastating consequences of the disaster for decades, possibly centuries, to
come. Rianne Teule, Greenpeace, told that this problem will be here for
hundreds of years to come. The new studies confirm that the problems, as
presented in 2006 by the world health organisation and international atomic
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energy agency, were really much bigger […]”official figures from Belarus, Ukraine
and Russia also contradict the chernobyl’s forum findings. The 2006-published
torch report by british scientists Ian Fairlie and David Sumner pointed out the
uncertainty surrounding the health effects of low doses of radiation and of
internal radiation doses through ingestion. It also said that amounts of some
radioactive particles released into the environment were underestimated by as
much as 30 per cent.
The United Nations International Agency for Research on Cancer has said that
there are more likely to be 16,000 deaths from chernobyl while the russian
academy of sciences claims that to date there have been at least 140,000 deaths
in ukraine and belarus and 60,000 in russia. The Ukrainian National Commission
for Radiation puts the figure much higher at 500,000. She continued, ‘the
diversity of the statistics in relation to Chernobyl deaths can be attributed to the
latency period from exposure to the physical manifestion of human cancers in the
body, which can take up to 30 years to manifest istelf’.
Oksana Kostikova of the Children’s Cancer Hospital in Minsk said: "these figures
cited by the who and the iaea don’t even match with figures other UN
organisations are predicting in terms of cancer deaths," adding that 16,000
deaths from chernobyl predicted by the International Agency for Research on
Cancer was "a more accurate assessment of what we see daily."
2. Latest Research – ‘Chernobyl: Consequences of the
Catastrophe for People and the Environment (Annals of the New
York Academy of Sciences)
The book is the most comprehensive study ever made on the impacts of the
Chernobyl disaster. The book is solidly based -- on health data, radiological
surveys and scientific reports -- some 5,000 previously unpublished studies in all.
It concludes that some 985,000 people died between 1986 and 2004, mainly of
cancer, as a result of the Chernobyl accident. A detailed study reveals that 3.84.0 % of all deaths in the contaminated territories of Ukraine and Russia from
1990 to 2004 were caused by the Chernobyl catastrophe. From 112,000 to
125,000 liquidators died before 2005- that is, some 15% of the 830,000 members
of the Chernobyl cleanup teams.
The book explodes the claim of the International Atomic Energy Agency-- still on
its website that the expected death toll from the Chernobyl accident will be 4,000.
The IAEA, the new book shows, is under-estimating, to the extreme, the
casualties of Chernobyl. Alice Slater, representative in New York of the Nuclear
Age Peace Foundation, comments:
"The tragic news uncovered by the comprehensive new research that almost one
million people died in the toxic aftermath of Chernobyl should be a wake-up call
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to people all over the world to petition their governments to put a halt to the
current industry-driven "nuclear renaissance.' Aided by a corrupt IAEA, the world
has been subjected to a massive cover-up and deception about the true
damages caused by Chernobyl." Further worsening the situation, she said, has
been "the collusive agreement between the IAEA and the World Health
Organization in which the WHO is precluded from publishing any research on
radiation effects without consultation with the IAEA."
There was fallout all over the world as the winds kept changing direction "so the
radioactive emissions" covered an enormous territory." The radioactive poisons
sent billowing from the plant into the air included Cesium-137, Plutonium, Iodine131 and Strontium-90. Beyond Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, the countries
included Bulgaria, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Sweden and
the United Kingdom. The radiological measurements show that some 10% of
Chernobyl poisons "fell on Asia". Huge areas" of eastern Turkey and central
China "were highly contaminated," reports the book.
Northwestern Japan was impacted, too. Northern Africa was hit with "more than
5% of all Chernobyl releases." The finding of Cesium-137 and both Plutonium239 and Plutonium-240 "in accumulated Nile River sediment is evidence of
significant Chernobyl contamination," it states. "Areas of North America were
contaminated from the first, most powerful explosion, which lifted a cloud of
radionuclides to a height of more than 10 km. Some 1% of all Chernobyl
nuclides," says the book, "fell on North America." Because foods produced in
highly contaminated areas in the former Soviet Union were shipped, and
consumed worldwide, affecting persons in many other nations. About 550 million
Europeans and 150 to 230 million others in the Northern Hemisphere received
notable contamination.
The consequences on public health are extensively analyzed. Before the
accident, more than 80% of the children in the territories of Ukraine, Belarus and
Russia extensively contaminated by Chernobyl "were healthy," the book reports,
based on health data. But "today fewer than 20% are well."
There is an examination of genetic impacts with records reflecting an increase in
"chromosomal aberrations" wherever there was fallout. This will continue through
the "children of irradiated parents for as many as seven generations." So "the
genetic consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe will impact hundreds of
millions of people."
As to deaths, the list of countries and consequences begins with Belarus. "For
the period 1900-2000 cancer mortality in Belarus increased 40%," it states, again
based on medical data and illuminated by tables in the book. They include
childhood cancers, thyroid cancer, leukemia and other cancers. Increased
numbers of sick and weak newborns were found in the heavily contaminated
territories in Belarus, Ukraine, and European Russia. Brain damage has been
found in individuals directly exposed – liquidators and those living in the
contaminated territories, as well as in their offspring. Premature cataracts; tooth
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and mouth abnormalities; and blood, lymphatic, heart, lung, gastrointestinal,
urologic, bone, and skin diseases afflict and impair people, young and old alike.
Endocrine dysfunction particularly thyroid disease, is far more common than
might be expected, with some 1,000 cases of thyroid dysfunction for every case
of thyroid cancer, a marked increase after the catastrophe. There are genetic
damage and birth defects especially in children of liquidators and in children born
in areas with high levels of radioisotope contamination. Immunological
abnormalities and increases in viral, bacterial, and parasitic diseases are rife
among individuals in the heavily contaminated areas. For more than 20 years,
overall morbidity has remained high in those exposed to the irradiation released
by Chernobyl. One cannot give credence to the explanation that theses numbers
are due solely to socioeconomic factors.
The book also examines the impact on plants and animals. The concentrations of
some of the poisons, because they have radioactive half-lives ranging from
20,000 to 200,000 years, "will remain practically the same virtually forever."
"Immediately after the catastrophe, the frequency of plant mutations in the
contaminated territories increased sharply." "Chernobyl irradiation has caused
many structural anomalies and tumourlike changes in many plant species and
has led to genetic disorders, sometimes continuing for many years," it says.
"Twenty-three years after the catastrophe it is still too early to know if the whole
spectrum of plant radiogenic changes has been discerned. We are far from
knowing all of the consequences for flora resulting from the catastrophe." As to
animals, the book notes "serious increases in morbidity and mortality that bear
striking resemblance to changes in the public health of humans--increasing tumor
rates, immunodeficiencies, and decreasing life expectancy." In one study it is
found that "survival rates of barn swallows in the most contaminated sites near
the Chernobyl nuclear power plant are close to zero. In areas of moderate
contamination, annual survival is less than 25%." Research is cited into ghastly
abnormalities in barn swallows that do hatch: "two heads, two tails."
"In 1986," the book states, "the level of irradiation in plants and animals in
Western Europe, North America, the Arctic, and eastern Asia were sometimes
hundreds and even thousands of times above acceptable norms."
The book examines "obstacles" to the reporting of the true consequences of
Chernobyl with a special focus on "organizations associated with the nuclear
industry" that "protect the industry first--not the public’ in this case the IAEA and
3. Tumours in adults as a consequence of the accident
The Belarusian government Chernobyl Committee in Minsk emphasises "that
Belorussian and Ukrainian scientists fear an increase in urogenital, lung and
stomach cancers, both among the liquidators and among the male inhabitants of
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the severely contaminated areas". At an international conference in Hiroshima in
early 2002, tumour specialists expressed the fear that a variety of cancers would
emerge only 20 to 30 years after the accident.
The Director of the Otto Hug Strahleninstitut in Munich, Edmund Lengfelder, also
sees a direct link between the accident and the increase in tumours other than
cancer of the thyroid. His conclusion is based on statistical surveys by doctors
from the area around Gomel in Belarus. Of every 100.000 people in the area,
240 would normally be expected to develop cancer. The increase is greatest in
the most severely contaminated districts of the Gomel Region - Vetka, Bragin,
Khoiniki and Narovlya. Men have most commonly developed tumours of the
lungs, stomach, skin and prostate. Women primarily have tumours of the breast,
uterus, stomach and skin.
In December 2004 the ‘Swiss Medical Weekly’ published findings from the
Clinical Institute of Radiation Medicine and Endocrinology Research, Minsk,
Belarus showing a 40% increase in cancer between 1990 and 2000. The
researchers used data from the National Cancer Registry, established in 1973.
They compared the post Chernobyl period with rates before the accident1986.
In women, breast cancer has been particularly prominent: the incidence of this
tumour has increased continuously around Gomel over the last 10 years. The
number of cases doubled between 1988 and the end of 1999. The causal link
between clusters of this disease and the nuclear disaster has been internationally
recognised and has been corroborated by epidemiological studies, especially for
women who were breastfeeding in the weeks following the accident.
4. Chernobyl animals worse affected than previously thought
Radiation has affected animals living near the site of Ukraine's Chernobyl nuclear
disaster far more than was previously thought, a French- American study
showed, challenging beliefs that local wildlife was on the rebound. The study
shows a significant correlation between increasing radioactivity and declining
number of species of insects and other invertebrates.
Mousseau's study said populations of bumblebees, butterflies, spiders,
grasshoppers and other invertebrates were low in the most contaminated areas
and barn swallows – only a third of which are reproducing – have a high rate of
genetic abnormalities. "We were amazed to see that there had been no studies
on this subject," Anders Moller, a researcher at the National Center for Scientific
Research in France, who led the study.
The only comparable data for abundance and diversity of insects and
invertebrates at study is a study on birds that show similar patterns. Almost two
years ago Moller and Mousseau found that Chernobyl’s swallows were more
likely to have tumors, misshapen toes and feather deformities than swallows from
uncontaminated regions.
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Researchers said they had compared animal populations in radioactive areas
with less contaminated plots and found that some were nearly completed
depleted of animal life. "There are areas with an abundance of 100 animals per
square meter," Moller said. "And then there are areas with less than one
specimen per square meter on average; the same goes for all groups of
The researchers also found that animals living near the Chernobyl reactor -which was covered in a protective shell after it exploded in April 1986 -- had more
deformities, including discoloration and stunted limbs, than normal.
"Usually (deformed) animals get eaten quickly, as it's hard to escape if your
wings are not the same length," Moller said. "In this case we found a high
incidence of deformed animals."
The findings challenge the view of Chernobyl as ecologically sound, despite the
fact that Ukrainian officials have turned it into a nature reserve, with wolves,
bison and bears. Earlier research into the area ignored the fact that animal
populations had grown unimpeded in the absence of humans for many years
after the blast, Moller said.
"We wanted to ask the question: Are there more or fewer animals in the
contaminated areas? Clearly there were fewer," said Moller, who has worked on
Chernobyl since 1991.
While researchers focused on the 30 kilometer radius around the Chernobyl
reactor, the fallout from the explosion covered a vast swathe of Eastern Europe,
including parts of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. The findings probably apply to
those areas as well, Moller said, adding that any decontamination effort was
unlikely due to the extent of the fallout. Mousseau has now started work on a longterm study of humans who live in the area, a study involving more than 11,000 adults
and 2,000 children.
Our Partners
Chernobyl Children International (CCI) partners with in-country organisations and
NGOs, Government Ministries, international agencies and organisations, with the
ultimate aim of reducing poverty and empowering local communities. We work in
close partnership with local and international stakeholders to develop a new
strategy for the recovery and sustainable development of the affected regions in
Belarus, Western Russia and Northern Ukraine.
We place a high priority on the development of local capacity, using local labour,
materials and other expertise where and whenever possible. We are also
committed to building local capacity through training and education for local
partners and project workers. We rely on the insights, expertise and resources of
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our extensive partner network to deliver meaningful, sustainable support to the
communities affected by Chernobyl.
Our Funding
88% of our funding comes from individuals
10% from corporate support
2% governement sources
National and International Agencies, NGOs and Governmental
UN NGO status
US Office of CCI
CORE Programme/UNDP
International Chernobyl Resource Information Network – ICRIN (a UN
Special initiative)
OCHA (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs)
International Red Cross
RPII (Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland)
Irish Department of Foreign Affairs & Irish Aid
Department of Justice, Equality & Law Reform
Department of Education & Science
Irish Development NGOs
Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation
International Children’s Heart Foundation, USA
Chabad (Children of Chernobyl), Israel
National Institute for Health, USA
Operation Smile, USA
Belarusian Embassy UK
Belarusian Embassy, Washington DC, USA
Volunteering Ireland
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Civil Society Organisations – Indigenous NGOs
Hope for the Future
Hope & Homes for Children, Belarus
Occupational Therapy (Belarus)
Children in Trouble
BCF (Belarusian Children’s Fund)
Echo of Chernobyl
Art Medica
OSCE (Organisation for Security & Cooperation)
Liquidators Association
Belarusian Government
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ministry of Labour & Social Protection
Ministry of Health Ministry of Education
Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs
Working with the UN
Chernobyl Children International has developed close working relations with the
United Nations in its attempts to raise worldwide awareness of the Chernobyl
disaster. The relationship with the UN is ongoing and has, over recent years,
involved cooperation and collaboration on a wide range of initiatives. On the
advice of the UN, CCI now purchases aid in-country, rather than delivered by
convoy. This move away from convoy delivery allows CCI to contribute to the
local economy and stimulate self-sufficiency in Belarus.
Official UN NGO Status
Chernobyl Children’s Project International has achieved official NGO Status with
the United Nations in 2004. This was achieved on foot of a long-standing
relationship between the organisation and the UN. In achieving UN NGO status
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CCI commits itself to disseminating information and to raise public awareness
about the purposes and activities of the UN.
1994 UNESCO Conference
In 1994 Adi Roche was the keynote speaker at the UNESCO Conference on
Chernobyl at which she gave personal testimony of her experiences of meeting
representatives of the “liquidators”—the 800,000 men and women conscripted to
‘liquidate’ or ‘blot-out’ the radiation released by the accident.
2003 Launch of ICRIN
The United Nations invited Adi Roche, CEO, Chernobyl Children International, to
be the keynote speaker at the launch of the International Chernobyl Research
and Information Network (ICRIN) Implementation Plan. The objective of ICRIN is
to support the ongoing efforts towards a sustainable development in the affected
territories by compiling, consolidating and coordinating relevant scientific
research, commissioning further research where required, and ensuring the
effective dissemination of its findings.
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Adi Roche continues to exchange information and reports with the United
Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). She has
given a number of keynote addresses at UN conferences, and consulted on ways
to improve damage assessment and aid distribution in the wake of the accident.
In May 1997, Roche addressed a historic United Nations Conference: “Chernobyl
and Beyond: International Humanitarian Assistance for Victims of Technological
Disasters.” Roche’s recommendations were adopted in the Conference Report.
At a follow-up conference, Roche delivered an urgent warning about the need for
international funds for repairs to the Chernobyl sarcophagus: this concrete tomb
encasing 740,000 cubic metres of radioactive debris is in danger of imminent
collapse. Roche continues to lobby internationally for the urgent completion of
the construction of the replacement sarcophagus.
In recognition of its continuing humanitarian work on behalf of the victims of
Chernobyl, the United Nations invited the Chernobyl Children International to
commemorate in 2001 the 15th anniversary of a nuclear disaster it described as
“the worst environmental disaster in the history of humanity.” On 26th April 2001,
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a multicultural art exhibition entitled Black Wind/White Land – Living with
Chernobyl, was officially opened in the UN Plaza in New York.
A further exhibition to commemorate the victims and survivors of Chernobyl will
be shown in October 2011 in Dublin.
Volunteer Networks
Our volunteers are truly the life-blood of Chernobyl Children International, and
have been for 20 years.
We are fortunate to be able to call upon the services of thousands of volunteers
who are committed to the aims and objectives of the organisation and who work
tirelessly on behalf of the children of Chernobyl. They have risen to the cry for
help and give their time, effort and skills, but they also give their love. They are
the backbone of CCI. They give helping hands as host families, doctors, nurses,
builders, care and general assistants, chefs, drivers and fundraisers. Without
them, we would not have achieved so much.
The three programmes that rely most heavily on volunteer involvement are:
Medical Programme
Doctors, nurses, surgeons and dentists offer their time and talents to provide
medical treatments and hospice care to the children of Chernobyl. Their efforts
have saved the lives of thousands of children and reduced the pain and
suffering of thousands more.
Building and Construction Programme
Skilled electricians, builders and carpenters put their talents to work in building,
refurbishing and renovating much-needed institutions, such as day-care
centres, medical centres and asylums, and foster homes known as “Homes of
Hope.” These volunteers put a safe roof over the heads of some of Belarus’s
most vulnerable children and families, improving their health, sanitation, and
comfort levels.
Rest and Recuperation Programme
Families across Ireland open their homes and their hearts to more than 1,000
children affected by the Chernobyl disaster, giving them a chance to recover
from the ravages of the toxic environment in which they are forced to live.
Volunteers from Ireland and America also travel to Belarus each year to help
run in-country rest and recuperation camps for children too ill to travel to
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We also maintain Volunteer Outreach Groups located throughout Ireland and in
Northern Ireland that are dedicated to year-round fundraising activities. Our
Outreach Groups organise and support a wide range of activities—from car
washes to marathons to casino nights and so much more. Though hard work and
creativity, our Volunteer Outreach Groups have helped CCI raise millions of
Euros to fund much-needed programmes.
Information Sources
The information, facts and figures described in this report were sourced from the
following published material:
WHO (World Health Organisation)
UNDP (United Nations Development Programme)
OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs)
International Red Cross
Belarusian Academy of Sciences
Thyroid Tumour Centre, Minsk, Belarus
Grigori Medvedev, senior nuclear engineer, Moscow
Association of Physicians of Chernobyl, Russian, Ukraine and Belarus
Union of Liquidators
Department of Humanitarian Affairs, Minsk, Belarus
EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development)
Chernobyl: Consequences
The Institute of Radiation Safety in Belarus is known as BELRAD (or Institute
BELRAD). The Institute was founded by the eminent nuclear physicist Dr Vasily
Nesterenko in 1990 and acts as an independent non state organization. The
Institute conducts scientific research and development projects to measure the
radiation in food and humans, along with measurements of contamination in soil
The goal of the Institute BELRAD is the radiation monitoring of the inhabitants of
Chernobyl zone and their food. The Institute also develops guidelines on
radiation safety for the protection of the population who live in the contaminated
zones. BELRAD also conducts ongoing scientific research.
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Main activities:
Radiation monitoring of the Chernobyl zones
The creation local networks for controlling and limiting the distribution of
contaminated food
Educating teachers and schools on the dangers of consuming irradiated food
Radiation monitoring of food. There are now 83 local networks in operation
and these networks or centres assist in monitoring food. The BELRAD databank
includes over 320,000 results relating to their radiation control and monitoring of
food in the worst affected regions of Belarus.
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