Dr. Alexey Yablokov, of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and co-author of “Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment” (link available under blogroll) spoke in Tokyo on December 15, 2012 about the lessons of Chernobyl for the world suffering under Fukushima radiation.
Dr. Yablokov is an eminent authority on the effect of radioactivity on populations.
I attempted to transcribe his talk the best I could. Clearly he was struggling with English at some times.
We need to discuss what danger is now. We need to create a safe situation now. I studied the consequences of the situation. After 25 or 26 years after Chernobyl, you have some real data. What is the real data?
All people who inhabited territories with 1 curie per square kilometer have some negative health effect. This health effect is much bigger in areas with 5 curies per kilometer… You have to think about this. I think it is most important now to think and discuss the problem of how to minimize the consequences of Fukushima…
I will speak about lessons of Chernobyl for civil society. I understand how it is important for Japan. This book, published first time in Russia, after this in the United States, and last year in Ukraine, now under translation here in this country, and next year in Japan. It is the biggest, up-to-date, independent review of Chernobyl consequences.
This is one example. Look at this. Upper curve is a highly contaminated area after Chernobyl. Lower graphs are less contaminated, and average for Russia. It is obvious that the highly contaminated area has a much higher cancer rate. You have the same thing here, absolutely sure, in 5 years, 7 years.
These were caused by Chernobyl irradiation, the same will be caused by Fukushima irradiation. Blood and circulation system disorders, endocrine system disorders, immune system disorders, respiratory system disorders, reproductive disorders, musculoskeletal system disorders, central nervous system disorders. Even a small dose, if it impacts for several years, it is visible, it is possible to detect changes in the brain. We have strong evidence that Chernobyl irradiation has broken the brain. And not only cataract, but special ocular vitreous destruction.
Digestive tract disorders, congenital malformations. Hundreds and hundreds, several thousands, typical radiation damage.
Among other consequences of Chernobyl catastophe, premature aging. Premature aging is typical for any irradiation. It means even children looked like older people. And older people looked older than their physiological age.
Also, mutation. Mutation is very important. It is maybe the key to understanding the level of exposure. It is possible to count it directly in the blood.
This is a highly contaminated group, liquidators. These are persons who worked in clean-up operations at the Chernobyl station. We looked for frequency of miscarriages in their families. During two or three years after Chernobyl, miscarriages dropped, but look, half of pregnancies ended in miscarriage, during the first year after Chernobyl.
And this is lens opacity. One of the consequences of irradiation is with the lens of the eye. Lens opacity and the level of incorporated cesium-137 in Belarusian children. You can see a very good correlation.
The next picture is thyroid cancer. We have a similar picture just now.
One more. Breast cancer jumped 10 years after Chernobyl. Breast cancer going up in highly contaminated areas. The upper graph, more than 5 curies per square kilometer. Visible risings of breast cancer 10 years after the catastrophe. You will have here the same situation.
Nuclear specialists, IAEA specialist officials, blame people and call it “radiation phobia”. They call it not real radiation illnesses, just psychological, radiation phobia. But radiation phobia in frogs, in swallows, in wolves, in pine trees? When we observe absolutely the same health disorders, the same mutation rates that we have in people.
Nuclear specialists and nuclear journals do not publish real data. How is it possible to catch real data? To take official statistics, and look for this, here is one example. Mortality rates going up for several years after Chernobyl. This is the deviation of infant mortality from the long-term trend in Germany and Poland. It’s not Russia, not Belarus, not Ukraine, it is less contaminated than these three countries. But, in spite of this, we have such an effect. Visible statistical elevation of infant mortality.
After 1986, we have some unexpected risings of the level of mortality. Nobody can explain anything more than Chernobyl. Only Chernobyl. No reason, no reason. Why, in Norway, in Finland, in Switzerland, in Germany, in Poland, there are risings in infant mortality.
This is Japan. A paper published two weeks ago. It calculates from official demographical data, published by the Japanese ministry of health and labor. You can see after Fukushima, in 2 months, and in 9 months, a visible rate of infant mortality going up. Obviously, it is Fukushima. But what is interesting, is that it is the data of the whole country, not near to Fukushima. We need to study it specially, carefully, in the Tokyo area, the north area, the south area. I expect that what we have here is very unpleasant data.
This is mortality for 6 highly contaminated territories in Russia, and 6 less contaminated territories. Mortality for 15 years, it obviously statistically differs. It is very spectacular that such different consequences arise for mortality. It is impossible to detect why it happened, but of course it is the result of Chernobyl.
If all plants, animals, micro-organisms which stand on the Chernobyl territory have a high level of mutation, it obviously is a result of Chernobyl. We have here the same. I know, as the result of study, butterflies, some birds around Fukushima, absolutely the same. In Chernobyl, we have the same effect like Fukushima. Less biodiversity, higher mutation rate, and genomic instability, such damage in animals and plants.
Some people who visit the Chernobyl zone for the first time think, “oh, how it flourishes”, because no people, and a lot of animals, and a lot of plants, but all plants have some chromosome damage. All animals find that it is not good to breed there, in the Chernobyl zone. They mostly come from other places, because there is no anthropogenic pressure. So the Chernobyl zone looks like a black hole.
The Chernobyl catastrophe demonstrates that the nuclear industry is willing to risk our planet with nuclear power, not only theoretically, but practically, at the same level of the risk to humanity as nuclear weapons.
Thank you very much for your attention.