Sunday 11 December 2016

Exaggeration clouds opinion

Published 26/02/2012 | 05:00

Madam -- May I first congratulate Senator John Crown for his excellent article (Sunday Independent, February 12, 2012) outlining the true effects of the Chernobyl accident and calling for a mature debate on nuclear power for Ireland. I also wish to respond to the letter of Adi Roche (Sunday Independent, February 19, 2012).

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While the Chernobyl accident was very serious, the actual health effects, as reported last year by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiations (UNSCEAR), are that about 60 people died and that any possible fatal cancer increase is not detectable above the normal 25 per cent rate. Fifteen of the deaths were from thyroid cancer which could have been prevented by the timely administration of iodine tablets. It also reports that there was no increase in birth defects above the normal rate. UNSCEAR also found no birth defects following the Japanese atomic bombs.

Most of the people around Chernobyl receive no more radiation than is normal in many parts of the world. (The radioisotopes in your body, if extracted and placed in front of a Geiger counter, would send it about eight times off scale.) It clearly makes no sense for Adi Roche to use the hackneyed phrase that "there is no safe level of radiation" when we are surrounded by it.

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