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By 1989, environmental groups emerged demanding to know more about the “radiological situation” in the contaminated territories.They wanted more aid and resettlement for people living in the most radioactive areas.Panicking, Moscow leaders again turned to the IAEA and the World Health Organization for help.The IAEA organized a team of 200 international scientists who carried out investigations for eight months in the contaminated regions.In it, IAEA scientists calculated estimates of the amount of curies that issued from the burning nuclear power plant and then estimated doses to the population living in the shadow of the fallout.From the estimated doses, they predicted that other than several hundred emergency workers who suffered from acute radiation sickness, there would be no detectable increase in health problems, even in the most contaminated regions.Together, our contributors go beyond a simple rehash of this most frightening of human-made disasters to offer important insights on what it can and should mean for us today.This roundtable will also be featured in the forthcoming launch of a new addition to the H-Net Commons, H-Envirohealth.
The technical report mentions “reports” of childhood thyroid cancer, but found these to be “anecdotal in nature.” Since 1989, however, medical staff in Belarus and Ukraine have noticed sharp increases in what had been very rare occurrences of thyroid cancer in children.
At it, the director of the Belarusian National Archives, Anton Wiliki, chastised the group of scholars.
He had thousands of documents about the accident, he said, and very few researchers had ever been interested enough to take a look.
The usual rate of one case per year for every million children grew to six in Belarus in 1989, then 30 in 1990. Local scientists tried to alert international scientists to this growing epidemic, but got nowhere.
Soviet science was considered to be too poor and politicized to be trustworthy.