Cg6K7deWgAIGEjwMore than 30 years after the incident, fears remain that Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion, which sent a cloud of radiation that reached the UK and has been labeled the world’s worst nuclear disaster in could still trigger cancer and more deaths. The explosion initially killed at least 28 people before the area was evacuated. According to later consensus by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations and the World Health Organization, the total death count from cancer the accident is projected to reach 4,000 for people who were exposed to high doses of radiation, and another 5,000 deaths for those who were less exposed to the fallout.

The initial accident happened on April 26, 1986, when an explosion occurred in reactor no 4 during a routine test. The explosion destroyed reactor No. 4 at the plant in Pripyat, Ukraine, which was then a part of the Soviet Union. Those closest to it died instantaneously while other succumbed to radiation poisoning more slowly. The reactor was later enclosed in a steel and concrete sarcophagus with the aim of containing the radiation, but it soon started leaking. A new cover for the reactor is to be completed in 2017. The horror has yet to die as thousands of Chernobyl children still suffer from severely compromised immune systems even generations after their parents were exposed to the fallout.

The government of Ukraine believes that the Chernobyl problem is a thing of the past and that the biggest health risk now are inaccurate media reports. At the same time, there are several organizations that say there is currently no evidence of higher-than usual death or unusual illnesses among the 5 million people still living on what is considered contaminated ground. On the contrary, some scientists and health workers who live in the region insist the death toll is far higher, more along the lines of 1 million, although they acknowledge that it is difficult to separate natural rates of cancer and illness in the general population from cases that could be attributed to Chernobyl. They accuse authorities of downplaying or outright ignoring the ongoing impact. The Belarus health ministry did not reply to repeated requests for public health data.

About the author: Timothy Evans

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