Well, what do we believe? What do we want to believe? Here are a couple of reports for you to get your teeth into. One proclaims a total of 4000 casualties and the other 980,000 from Chernobyl. Ok, that is wild. There are over 500 pages of data and references. For the time constrained, I would recommend cherry-picking and then the conclusions.
The first is Annex D to the UNSCEAR report of 2008. You can download the report here. I shall leave it to you to work your way through all 178 pages of this tome.
The second, at a paltry 349 pages, is a collection of scientific papers by Dr. Alexey Yablokov. You can read about it here. You can download it here. Or if you cannot get it from the previous link, and if you ask nicely, I can send you a copy. There is also a recent Youtube Yablokov Interview.
A couple of notes of wonkiness. The UNSCEAR report was published a year before the Yablokov collection. The latter refers to the former. The former doesn’t have a single mention of the latter – not even the tiniest reference – when Yablokov has over 400 publications to his name. It is strange how science can be influenced by language . . . immediately impacting on objectivity . . . or maybe there is a desire not to know.
The liquidators are the group of Chernobyl Cleanup Workers. This group is/was originally of between 600,000 and 1 million in number from across the USSR. They “tidied up” and built the sarcophagus at Chernobyl between 1986 and 1990. There are eleven mentions of the liquidators in the former document. I lost track of the number of mentions in the latter document. Yablokov tracks some incredible data – enjoy. He even controls for alcoholism . . .
It might be better to get a single, large dose as this just kills the cells – though it might kill you too. A low dose, over an extended period, doesn’t kill the cell it causes mutations . . . great. And also if you ingest it through respiration or diet that has an impact.
Furthermore, it appears that since 1959 the IAEA & WHO have had an agreement not publish anything that the other hasn’t scrutinised and authorised. A case of poachers and gamekeepers in cahoots . . . Furthermore, it should be noted that UNSCEAR (the patron of the first report) is based at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna. This is hardly neutral territory.
You will notice that many of the states in Western Europe denied the passage of the cloud and the fallout. The USSR clamped down on reports and reporting. Why would such secrecy be so necessary for such a clean, green power?
P.S. There is much mud being slung about both the reports above. The UNSCEAR report is: A) Associated with the IAEA; B) it is too narrow, only dealing with Belarus, Ukraine and Russia; and C) The radioisotope analysis is too narrow. And the Yablokov book, takes a pounding for: A) Being too broad; and B) Not being rigorous enough.
Here are two reviews of the Yablokov book, from the Journal of Radiation Protection Dosimetry: The Charles review and Fairlie review. One is more positive than the other. One is more forgiving than the other. One, perhaps, is more balanced than the other. These two will give a significant insight into the complexity of this subject. The ramifications of the different methodologies, protocols and philosophies of the respective scientific communities (and the language issues) are but one indicator of blinkering or narrowing of objectivity. The impact of politics is not really touched on. I suspect that time will be the winner in the end; long after the standing of institutions and the importance of egos have faltered; the truth of the data will come out. And, it is better to have the data out there.