Greenpeace has rejected the UN findings that claim an extra 4,000 cancer deaths would be attributable to the radioactive fallout of the Chernobyl disaster, which struck 20 years ago. Instead, the group says that the number of cancer deaths is closer to 93,000.
Most of these victims would be in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. The Chernobyl nuclear disaster in April 1986 was one of the worst nuclear accidents in the world and its effects are felt even today. Last October, the Chernobyl Forum, which includes the IAEA, the World Health Organization, a number of UN bodies and the governments of Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine had released the report saying that there would be 4,000 deaths from cancer. Greenpeace suggests that this number has been grossly underestimated and says that 270,000 cases of cancer will be diagnosed with 93,000 fatalities. "We're also looking at intestinal problems, heart and circulation problems, respiratory problems, endocrine problems, and particularly effects on the immune system," said Blake Lee-Harwood, campaigns director at Greenpeace. "The figures tend to converge around the 200,000 mark." But the earlier report had said that there was no clear evidence to point out that cancers would increase. Dr Oxana Lozova, who works at a children's hospital in Rivne district near Chernobyl said that the cases were ever increasing. "I think the fallout from Chernobyl has affected the immunity of those who were young children at the time of the disaster," she said. "We now have to deal with people who are a lot weaker than their fathers and grandfathers were. "They're falling ill at an age when they really should still be quite fit." The original report had estimated that only nine children had thyroid cancer, but the new report says that this number is exponentially larger.