GREEN EURO-MPs DEMAND CHERNOBYL ANSWERS
LUCAS: ‘WE’LL NEVER KNOW EXACTLY HOW MANY DIED IN DISASTER’
WE’LL never know exactly how many people were killed as a result of the
Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which took place in Ukraine 20 years ago this
week, a Euro-MP warned today.
Caroline Lucas, a Green Party MEP and the Party’s Principal Speaker, said:
“The world’s worst nuclear disaster took place twenty years ago – but we are
still suffering the fallout, literally, today.
“Estimates of numbers killed are as high as almost two million in Europe
alone – the truth is we’ll never know how many died, and are dying, often in
extreme pain, even today.
“But we mustn’t stop thinking about them when we discuss building new
nuclear power stations.”
Dr Lucas made her comments as the group of Green MEPs in the European
Parliament – the fourth-largest at Brussels – demanded answers from the
traditionally-secretive European Commission on the long-term effects of the
Green MEPs have tabled some 13 parliamentary questions calling on the
Commission to release information on the numbers of deaths and cancers
caused by the disaster, the ongoing risks from long-term contamination, the
safety and storage of radioactive waste at the site, the role of nuclear
power in EU energy policy and the assistance being offered communities in
Ukraine and Belarus most affected.
The world’s worst nuclear disaster took place twenty years ago this week, on
April 26th 1986 when the nuclear power plant at Chernobyl, Ukraine, was
destroyed by fire after an explosion in a nuclear reactor.
Twenty years on, experts disagree about the full extent of the catastrophe,
but it is clear the official versions – often compiled behind the Iron
Curtain and some still untranslated – significantly under-report the scale
of the devastation.
Just this week at least three publications have argued that official
estimates of the number of people killed are gross underestimates.
Chernobyl 20 Years On: Health Effects of the Chernobyl Accident, edited by
Dr Chris Busby of European Committee on Radiation Risk, says the total
number killed will never be known, but cites an estimate of 1.8 million
cancer deaths associated with the explosion in Europe alone.
In The Other Report on Chernobyl (TORCH), a report commissioned by the
Greens in the European Parliament, Consultant in Environmental Radiation Ian
Fairlie and David Sumner argue that the disaster contaminated 40 per cent of
Europe’s surface with radioactive material, including more than a third of
A report by environmental organisation Greenpeace International, The
Chernobyl Catastrophe: Consequences on Human Health argues that the UN
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) deliberately understated the
figures as part of a campaign to promote nuclear power as a solution to
climate change and the exhaustion of fossil fuel reserves.
Dr Lucas, who represents South-East England and is a member of the European
Parliament’s influential Environment Committee, added: “The terrible legacy
of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster has killed, and continues to kill, many
thousands of people across Europe- and we should not even be thinking about
building new nuclear power stations here in the UK with the potential to
kill millions more.
“The truth is nuclear energy is dirty and dangerous – not to mention
prohibitively expensive. As we remember the terrible events of 26 April 1986
we must re-affirm our commitment to a nuclear free future.”