Title: Fukushima After the Meltdown
Author: Miles O’Brien
Date: March 15, 2012
Revisiting Chernobyl: A Nuclear Disaster Site of Epic Proportions
The nuclear crisis in Japan has renewed interest in the 1986 nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl in Ukraine. Science correspondent Miles O’Brien traveled to the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, shortly before its 25th anniversary.
MILES O’BRIEN: [...] After the explosion, there was a big spike in birth defects and thyroid cancer, extremely rare among children. And researchers say there is also a significant drop in the intellect in the region.
At the dilapidated regional hospital closest to Chernobyl, the medical staff is convinced there is a direct link between chronic exposure to radiation and a whole assortment of diseases and deformities.
I asked Dr. Constantine Cheres if he is convinced people are more sick here because of the Chernobyl accident. “Of course,” he told me. “Of course they are more sick.”
But the Chernobyl Forum, a group of U.N. agencies focused on the accident, estimates only 4,000 people died as a result of the explosion and its aftermath. One of the four members, the U.N. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, issued a report contending: “There is no clearly demonstrated increase in the incidence of cancers or leukemia due to radiation in the exposed populations. Neither is there any proof of any non-malignant disorders that are related to ionizing radiation. However, there were widespread psychological reactions to the accident, which were due to fear of the radiation, not the actual radiation doses.”
But Ukrainian scientist Maryna Naboka begs to differ. She told me people here get sick more often and they become more seriously sick. They receive little doses of radiation, but they do it on a day-to-day basis, and the second generation continues getting the radiation.
Watch Revisiting Chernobyl: A Nuclear Disaster Site of Epic Proportions on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.
Published: March 17th, 2012 at 8:23 am ET