The Chernobyl disaster of two decades ago still holds more than a third of Britain prey to its deadly consequences. Its radioactivity contamination here still continues to cause cancer in children according to the investigation led by the Independent on Sunday.
According to official measurements published in the report at least 34 per cent of Britain will continue to remain radioactive for centuries as a result of the disaster.
This has been especially noted in Cumbria the worst-affected part of England, where rates of thyroid cancer in children have risen by 12-fold after the catastrophe. This has disproved government assurances at the time that the radiation in Britain was "nowhere near the levels at which there is any hazard to health".
The report was presented at a conference at the Royal College of Surgeons. It cites official figures that show that most of the highly radioactive caesium emitted in the disaster was blown across Europe by winds.
Areas of about 81,000 sq km mainly in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the west of England - were contaminated above 4,000 bequerels per square meter. The doses of radiations from this are only expected to decline slowly over the next few centuries.
The rates of thyroid cancer in children across northern England before and after the Chernobyl cloud passed overhead were examined thoroughly by scientists at Newcastle University, led by Professor Louise Palmer. Their study has revealed slight increases across the region - and an abrupt 12-fold jump in Cumbria, which received most of the fall-out. The results have been found to be consistent with a causal association with the Chernobyl catastrophe.