Figure it out

WHO underestimates Chernobyl, claims Greenpeace

Published: Wednesday 31 May 2006

greenpeace International, a pressure group, has called a recent report by the World Health Organization (who) on the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident a gross underestimation.

who had predicted that the accident would cause 9,000 cancer deaths. But Greenpeace quoted data from the Belarus national cancer statistics to say Chernobyl could cause cancer in about 270,000 people, of which 93,000 could die. In view of the high casualties, nuclear power plants should not be encouraged, it added.

The who report was aimed at helping the affected countries -- Belarus, Russia and Ukraine -- make public health decisions to hasten the healing process. For example, cancer cases could have been reduced if people had been warned against consuming milk from cows in the area. Most thyroid cancer cases are suspected to have been caused by consuming milk of cows that had grazed on contaminated grasslands.

More than five million people continue to live in the affected region and are at risk.

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