Controversy still rages on 20th anniversary of Chernobyl

Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the nuclear power-plant accident in Chernobyl, Ukraine, that spewed radioactive fallout across Europe. Estimates of the total number of deaths that will result range from around 9,000 (a U.N. report released last year) to 93,000 (a new Greenpeace report). The controversy stems from uncertainty about the health effects of small doses of radiation. Thyroid cancer and other thyroid abnormalities are health problems that most scientists agree are directly linked to Chernobyl, but the Greenpeace report also blames fallout for “damaging immune and endocrine systems, leading to accelerated aging, cardiovascular and blood illnesses, psychological illnesses, chromosome aberrations, and an increase of deformities in fetuses and children.” The last of Chernobyl’s four reactors was taken out of commission in 2000; now, the site sits quietly amidst a wide “dead zone” that has, ironically, become a kind of wildlife refuge. It almost makes it all … wait, no it doesn’t.