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← Chernobyl: A Million Casualties

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Showing Revision 2 created 06/20/2011 by Michael Cassady.

  1. Chernobyl, a million casualties

  2. Next on Enviro Close-up
  3. Welome to Enviro-Close-up
  4. I am Karl Grossman
  5. This coming April 26th
  6. marks the 25th anniversary of
  7. the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster
  8. Meanwhile, the nuclear industry worldwide
  9. is pushing for a revival of nuclear power
  10. and this very important book has been published
  11. Title: "Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe..
  12. for People and the Environment"
  13. and, it concludes, based on now available medical data
  14. that, between 1986, the year of the accident,
  15. and 2004, 985,00 people died as the result
  16. of the disaster
  17. and more have been dying since.
  18. With us is Dr. Janet Sherman
  19. she's the contributing editor of this book
  20. which was authored by a noted Russian biologist
  21. Alexey Yablokov
  22. Vassily Nesterenko
  23. and Alexey Nesterenko,
  24. they're both from Belorussia
  25. Welcome Janet.
  26. How did these people die?
  27. I mean we're talking a million people dead
  28. from this nuclear accident. How?
  29. They died of multiple different kinds of diseases
  30. from cancer to heart disease, brain damage,
  31. thyroid cancer.
  32. But many children died in utero
  33. in other words before they were born
  34. or died of birth defects after they were born
  35. How did these scientists determine
  36. 985,000 deaths as the result of Chernobyl?
  37. Based on medical data that were
  38. available to the scientists.
  39. Now what we've heard, frankly since the accident
  40. from the International Atomic Energy Agency
  41. which is the global group
  42. which is supposed to regulate
  43. and promote nuclear power
  44. the casualties of Chernobyl
  45. well currently, from IAEA, on its website
  46. says maybe, in all, there were 4,000 people dead.
  47. Now that's quite different from 985,000
  48. Why this discrepancy?
  49. Well, they released a report
  50. called the "Chernobyl Forum",
  51. and they only included about 350 articles
  52. available in the English language.
  53. But, Dr. Yablokov, and the two Nesterenkos
  54. looked at well over 5,000 articles
  55. and the people who were, excuse the term
  56. "boots on the ground"
  57. people who were there, who saw what was going on
  58. We're talking about medical doctors
  59. scientists, veterinarians, epidemiologist
  60. who saw what was happening
  61. when people in their communities
  62. were getting sick and dying.
  63. There's another international agency,
  64. the World Health Organization (WHO)
  65. and indeed the book charges
  66. the truth has not come out on Chernobyl
  67. from the WHO,
  68. and forget about the IAEA
  69. because of an agreement between these two agencies
  70. Can you elaborate on that agreement?
  71. They formed an agreement in 1959
  72. that has not been changed
  73. where one will not release a report
  74. without the agreement of the other.
  75. Now, this is like having Dracula guarding the blood-bank
  76. because the WHO who is charged with
  77. "world health organization"
  78. is beholden to the IAEA
  79. before they can release a report.
  80. And, what the IAEA, I mentioned before,
  81. is there to regulate nuclear technology
  82. around the world
  83. But, it is also set up to promote it.
  84. And, it evidently does not want anything from WHO
  85. which would indicate that nuclear power
  86. is not good for one's health.
  87. That's right, and this needs to be ended,
  88. this agreement needs to be stopped.
  89. Let me go right to you
  90. You've devoted your life to the impacts of poison
  91. That's been your specialty, a toxicologist.
  92. Here, your editing this book
  93. you're going through all this scientific data
  94. This has to be— a million dead of the Chernobyl accident —
  95. the biggest technological disaster,
  96. frankly, in the history of the world!
  97. True.
  98. How did you feel as you looked at the data
  99. and you put this book together?
  100. Well, I realized it was far worse than I thought it was
  101. and that, not only were, people dying of cancer
  102. and heart disease,
  103. but every single organ in the body,
  104. whether it was immunological, or lungs,
  105. or cataracts, or skin:
  106. Everything was adversely affected.
  107. But, not only people,
  108. every single system that was studied
  109. and not all were, but every system that was studied
  110. whether it was humans, or fish, or tress,
  111. or birds, bacteria, viruses, wolves, cows,
  112. Every system was changed,
  113. every single system, without exception.
  114. And, this was reflected in the book?
  115. It's not just human effects.
  116. Many of the birds and animals
  117. had similar adverse effects as humans
  118. Most people aren't familiar... We all know I think,
  119. at this point that radio-activity and cancer
  120. go together
  121. But heart problems, heart disease,
  122. how does that connect?
  123. Well, one of the most fascinating things
  124. that I learned when I was rewriting the text
  125. of the book, and going through all of the data,
  126. was one of the scientists, Bandeshevski (sic)
  127. had done a study that showed that the Cesium 137 levels
  128. in children were the same as he had found in test animals
  129. and were causing heart damage.
  130. He reported this,
  131. and for his work, he was put in prison
  132. He was put in prison?
  133. He was put in prison, yes.
  134. And, he analyzed... these are animals, that were...
  135. Well he did the original study on animals,
  136. and, then, as a pathologist, studying the results
  137. in children, and he found the same changes
  138. in the hearts of children, who had died,
  139. as he had seen in the animals.
  140. And, when he reported it
  141. his thanks was, he was arrested and put in prison.
  142. The radio activity from Chernobyl
  143. Russia, Belorussia, the Ukraine:
  144. these were three places where
  145. a lot of the radiation was deposited.
  146. But, according to this book,
  147. again based on data,
  148. those poisons came down all over the world.
  149. Yes, they did. And, the greatest concentrations
  150. came down in Belorussia, the Ukraine and Russia,
  151. but the greatest amount, more that 50 percent
  152. spread around the entire northern hemisphere.
  153. Particularly north into Scandinavia,
  154. and eastward into Asia.
  155. As far as China.
  156. Oh, yes.
  157. The book concludes, indeed,
  158. that the deaths, as a result of Chernobyl,
  159. occurred not just in Belorussia, Russia and the Ukraine,
  160. but all over.
  161. Oh, around the entire world, yes of course.
  162. How long will this continue?
  163. I mean, some of the poisons that were discharged
  164. they're going to be around for millennia?
  165. Oh yes, I mean just the two main ones
  166. Cesium 137 and Strontium 90
  167. have half-lives of about 30 years
  168. so they'll be around for three centuries at least,
  169. but many of the isotopes will be
  170. around for millennia, you're right.
  171. The book, however, stresses that
  172. the worst damage occurred in those early months
  173. particularly those early weeks,
  174. when the fire— there was this huge fire
  175. that they weren't able to put out.— that was blazing.
  176. Well yes, but still right now
  177. the reactor is leaking into the water supply,
  178. the structure that is around the reactor right now
  179. is not sound.
  180. And, if there is as much as a mild earth-quake
  181. there's a chance of it collapsing.
  182. So, this reactor is by no means covered up
  183. or safe, and not leaking.
  184. This book, telling the truth about Chernobyl
  185. was published by the New York Academy of Sciences
  186. a rather prestigious organization.
  187. What about the rest of the scientific establishment?
  188. What's been there, how can I put it,
  189. stance, their position, in getting this
  190. information out about Chernobyl?
  191. Well, some groups have been very
  192. interested in getting out the information.
  193. And, people allied with the nuclear industry
  194. would just as soon nobody knew anything about
  195. what's in that books.
  196. How did Dr. Yoblekov, and the Dr.s Nosterenko
  197. embark on this journey with you
  198. of looking into the impacts of Chernobyl?
  199. Well, they have been aware of
  200. the WHO and IAEA agreement, and actually
  201. there have been people 24/7 outside
  202. the WHO Geneva (Switzerland) headquarters
  203. trying to get this stopped, this agreement stopped.
  204. Have these people been demonstrating?
  205. Demonstrating, yes.
  206. Picketing because of this...
  207. (This agreement...)
  208. what the book describes as a collusive
  209. agreement between the IAEA and WhO.
  210. That's correct. Alexey Yoblokov was
  211. a consultant to both Gorbachev and Yelstin,
  212. on the Chernobyl issues,
  213. and, as you know, the data were covered up
  214. for about three years after Chernobyl happened,
  215. because the governments did not want
  216. anything to be known by people
  217. and they collected almost nothing
  218. in the way of data.
  219. Alexey became interested in that
  220. and started collecting information.
  221. I think there is something like 150,000 publications
  222. that have come out, and they utilized
  223. well over 5,000 in writing this books.
  224. Many of the sources in here have never been
  225. translated in English.
  226. Mostly were in the languages of
  227. Ukraine, Russia and Belorussia.
  228. So, this is entirely new informaiton
  229. that has not been available to the Western world,
  230. You talk about the impacts on people
  231. on animals, on plant life.
  232. Are the mechanisms different?
  233. No, essentially, the mechanisms are the same.
  234. Exposure to these radio-active isotopes
  235. are taken up by plants, birds, taken up by humans
  236. and damage the cells, kill some of the cells,
  237. damage the DNA, damage the genetic
  238. mechanisms of species.
  239. Now, if it kills the cell, then it's not
  240. going to go on to cause cancer,
  241. if it damages a cell, it can go on
  242. to cause cancer, or a birth defect,
  243. in a human, a bird, or even "birth defects" in plants.
  244. Plants have been altered by Chernobyl.
  245. Now, you just mentioned how the consequences
  246. were a lot toward the northwest,
  247. because the winds were blowing
  248. towards of all places Scandinavia, the Lapps,
  249. I mean people who had nothing to do
  250. with Chernobyl or nuclear power.
  251. They got hit.
  252. There was rain, there was fallout, and so forth.
  253. Speak about those consequences.
  254. A recent study has come out
  255. showing that children born in Scandinavia,
  256. at the time when the Chernobyl fallout occurred,
  257. are less likely to graduate from high-school.
  258. They have intellectual impairment.
  259. Probably the most serious consequence of Chernobyl
  260. that I'm aware of is that only 20% of children
  261. in Belorussia are considered healthy.
  262. That means 80% of the children in Belorussia
  263. are not well, compared to the data that they have
  264. of children before the Chernobyl accident,
  265. and they're medically not well,
  266. and they are intellectually below par.
  267. How would that... what would be the relationship there?
  268. Between radio-activity and a deterioration
  269. of intellectual capability?
  270. Well, while a mother is pregnant,
  271. she is eating food, and what happened, was
  272. most of the people did not know, or they did
  273. not have access to food that was not contaminated.
  274. These isotopes are taken into the body while
  275. a woman is pregnant.
  276. They are transported through her body
  277. to the unborn, and damage the heart, the lungs,
  278. the thyroids, the brains,
  279. all the tissues, the immunological system
  280. of these unborn.
  281. These children are born unwell, low birth weight.
  282. There was a very high fetal death rate
  283. as a result of these exposures.
  284. This is probably the greatest tragedy
  285. that could occur to a culture
  286. After the accident, from the Ukraine,
  287. which had been the break-basket of the
  288. former Soviet-Union, where Chernobyl was and is.
  289. In fact there's three units of the Chernobyl
  290. nuclear facility still in operation.
  291. In any case, that food moved around.
  292. Well, this is an extremely serious problem.
  293. How do you get enough food for people
  294. if the land is contaminated for three centuries?
  295. And, not only are you worried about grains,
  296. like wheat, or rye, but you also have to worry
  297. about mushrooms. It doesn't sound
  298. very important, but mushrooms are
  299. a very big part of the food supply in that area.
  300. And, these are extremely contaminated.
  301. The book concludes,
  302. based on 985,000 people dead,
  303. the data, however, just covers
  304. from 1986 to 2004.
  305. As we opened the program by mentioning
  306. a million casualties, would that be essentially
  307. the number that became victims of Chernobyl?
  308. I believe that's correct, that we will see that many.
  309. We know, for instance, that people called
  310. the liquidators.
  311. These were the young men and women
  312. who were recruited, largely from the military,
  313. from countries all around the area
  314. to go in to put out the fires,
  315. and contain the Chernobyl mess.
  316. 15% of them have died.
  317. And, now these were young men and women,
  318. we're talking about between 18 and 30.
  319. Dr. Sherman, in terms of the amount
  320. of radio-activity emitted from the plant,
  321. there to is a big discrepancy between
  322. what's revealed in this book
  323. and what's been acknowledged up to now.
  324. Absolutely, and if a small amount was emitted,
  325. the we have to conclude that low levels
  326. of radiation are extremely damaging.
  327. And, if large levels were emitted, we have to
  328. understand how much damage has been done.
  329. But, we really don't know yet
  330. because nobody has been able to find out
  331. what is actually left in the reactor,
  332. that is leaking into the ground-water.
  333. What does this say about the safety
  334. of nuclear power?
  335. I mean, the nuclear industry, the nuclear
  336. establishment, because a lot of the nuclear
  337. industry involved government entities,
  338. a push is on to revive nuclear power, to create
  339. a nuclear Renaissance, to build many, many
  340. more nuclear power plants.
  341. What's the lesson of Chernobyl?
  342. I think the lesson of Chernobyl is
  343. we should be very careful before
  344. we push technology. I mean we were told
  345. that there was no problem with British Petroleum
  346. drilling in the Gulf of Mexico,
  347. There's one issue of technology,
  348. where engineers do certain things, but they
  349. don't understand the biology.
  350. They don't understand what's happening
  351. to life around these installations.
  352. And, I think Chernobyl is the biggest lesson
  353. of what is happened to all species
  354. that were contaminated. No exceptions.
  355. I mean, the book talks about Owls...
  356. could you elaborate upon some of the effects on animals?
  357. One of the scientists, whose photograph
  358. is on the book, is Tim Rousseau,
  359. form the University of South Carolina.
  360. He's led about 25 groups of scientists to
  361. the Chernobyl area
  362. and the have studied insects, and birds, and animals,
  363. and owls, and all kinds of different animals
  364. as tot what's going on.
  365. He said one of the trips he made,
  366. he suddenly realized there were no bees,
  367. and there was no fruit falling on the ground.
  368. And, he realized there was no fruit
  369. falling on the ground, because
  370. there were no bees that had pollenated the trees.
  371. So, he is predicting, and this may
  372. indeed happen, that there could be
  373. a complete loss of species around Chernobly
  374. as a result of these isotopes that are still decaying,
  375. that could wipe out entire species.
  376. I mean, you know, after all, it is a major
  377. bird transport area, migration area,
  378. and we don't know what's happening
  379. when the birds come through,
  380. eating whatever they can find on the ground
  381. and then flying on, dropping the berries
  382. further on after they have left the Chernobyl area.
  383. The genetic impacts.
  384. I mean rado-activity has an enormous
  385. effect on genes. Speak on that.
  386. These are unlikely to be improved.
  387. Once you get a genetic defect,
  388. it becomes transmitted
  389. generation after generation after generation
  390. so these defects, occurring in humans, in birds
  391. in plants, are unlikely to improve the species
  392. as they occur.
  393. What kinds of genetic defects
  394. are you speaking of?
  395. Well, in humans, were talking about
  396. brain defects, heart defects, limb defects,
  397. children without arms,
  398. hydrocephalic babies.
  399. In birds, we're looking at changes
  400. in the feathers, and in the beaks, and in
  401. their brain size.
  402. Talk about 'bird brains', these birds
  403. are not as smart.
  404. And they're not going to be able to function
  405. as well as the birds that are not changed.
  406. We know that the plants have been changed,
  407. irreversably.
  408. You know, this is not rocket science:
  409. we know where these isotopes go,
  410. we know that Iodine goes to the thyroid.
  411. We know that Strontium 90 goes
  412. to bones and teeth— particularly to the unborn.
  413. We know that Cesium 137 goes to
  414. the heart and to the muscles.
  415. This is not a mystery,
  416. and, if we know this, we can predict
  417. what the adverse effects are going to be.
  418. And, indeed, they turned out to be just that,
  419. and its shown, proven, in this book.
  420. This has to constitute one of the...well, the claim
  421. that just a few thousand people died
  422. as a result of Chernobyl disaster:
  423. One of the biggest lies in history, no?
  424. Absolutely, and they've been able
  425. get away with it.
  426. We need to put pressure on the WHO,
  427. and the United Nations,
  428. to separate the WHO from the IAEA.
  429. Not just on the international level
  430. with the International Atomic Energy Agency
  431. and the World Health Organization,
  432. here in the United States,
  433. the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, has too
  434. tried to minimize the impacts of radio-activity.
  435. You're absolutely correct, and I can
  436. go back to the Atomic Energy Commission,
  437. before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
  438. I worked for for the AEC, at the University
  439. of California, in 1952.
  440. That was my first job out of college.
  441. And, if I could figure out
  442. with my limited experience at that time
  443. and my limited education at that time
  444. that radiation was harmful,
  445. then other people could figure it out.
  446. We have had secrecy and lies
  447. to the American public, for decades,
  448. about the effects of nuclear radiation.
  449. There have been cover-ups,
  450. these has been falsification of data,
  451. There have been people who have said
  452. don't worry about a little Strontium 90,
  453. don't worry about deuterium
  454. coming out of the plant,
  455. We know that Davis Bessie (sic)
  456. almost melted, within an inch of its
  457. containment, as a result of its poor maintenance.
  458. And, I believe it's just a matter of time
  459. before we have another nuclear problem
  460. somewhere in the world
  461. if not in the United States.
  462. Well, why. You were within the nuclear establishment
  463. way back. We're talking about a half century ago.
  464. Does it have to do with money?
  465. Does it have to do with promoting
  466. a technology that these people
  467. are connected with— the nuclear scientists.
  468. Why the lying, why the deception?
  469. I think it has to do with many things, I think it's
  470. the money. And the control is on
  471. corporations who are promoting
  472. nuclear technology.
  473. But, we also have enormous
  474. scientific ignorance in this country,
  475. people who really don't understand biology.
  476. I think if I lined up 20 people
  477. let's say in a mall someplace, and said,
  478. "Put your hand over your liver."
  479. I'll bet you half of them couldn't do it.
  480. And, to explain to people what's happening
  481. with nuclear radiation. I think our
  482. educational system is so poor these days
  483. that children are not learning
  484. about biology, and physics and chemistry,
  485. and its essential because it such a major
  486. part of our culture and our economy.
  487. As you plowed through all this data,
  488. the consequences of Chernobyl,
  489. did the experience back decades ago
  490. connect in any way with what you were doing?
  491. Absolutely, I mean this has been know for decades
  492. the adverse effects of radio-activity.
  493. This is not something that has just occurred
  494. in the last couple of years.
  495. I mean scientists who have any knowledge
  496. whatsoever of physics, can figure out
  497. where an isotope is going to go
  498. in a body, or in a plant, or in a bird.
  499. I mean, this is not mysterious kinds of science.
  500. What does Chernobyl represent.
  501. I mean we're talking about a million dead.
  502. What does it represent in terms of
  503. technological history, or the current
  504. technological scene.
  505. What does it mean?
  506. I think it represents very strongly that
  507. we cannot depend on technology,
  508. nor can we depend on humans
  509. who operate and design this technology,
  510. because the ultimate failure is human failure,
  511. as it happened at Chernobyl.
  512. We're talking here about
  513. health consequences on
  514. the most massive of scales.
  515. Yes, indeed, around the entire
  516. northern hemisphere.
  517. Wherever the fallout was
  518. people ended up dead.
  519. They would up dead, and they wound up
  520. children who were grossly impaired
  521. intellectually and mecically, and this
  522. is going on. It hasn't stopped yet,
  523. it's still going on.
  524. Dr. Sherman, how can people get
  525. a copy of this book?
  526. They could contact me by e-mail.
  527. I am
  528. And, I hope to have information on how
  529. they can get copies of this book.
  530. Yes, I think it's very important, at this time,
  531. that people learn the truth
  532. about what happened as a result of
  533. the Chernobyl disaster.
  534. Thank you so much for doing this work Dr. Sherman.
  535. This has been Enviro-Close-up.
  536. I am Karl Grossman.
  537. Thank you for watching, and to get
  538. a copy of this, or any Enviro video program
  539. just visit our website
  540. at
  541. This program was taped on March 5th 2011
  542. six days before the nuclear disaster in japan
  543. began unfolding.
  544. The clear lesson of Chernobyl, and now
  545. the Japanese disaster: all nuclear plants
  546. should be shut down.
  547. They present a clear and present danger
  548. to life on Earth.
  549. No more nuclear plants should be built.
  550. Tax-payer subsides for nuclear power
  551. must be stopped, and we must embark
  552. immediately on an energy program of
  553. efficiency, and full implementation of
  554. solar, wind, geo-thermal, and other
  555. safe, clean energy technologies
  556. which are here today,
  557. and render deadly nuclear power
  558. completely unnecessary.