The death toll from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster 20 years ago has been greatly underestimated, according to the environmental group, Greenpeace. The UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, estimates between 4,000 and 9,000 people died after the explosion at a power plant in the Ukrainian town. But Greenpeace says out of two billion people globally affected by the fallout, a quarter of a million will develop cancers, as a result of which there will be an extra 93,000 fatalities.
The blast sent a plume of radioactive dust across a huge swathe of Europe and as far as the eastern United States. Vladimir Chuprov, head of Greenpeace’s energy department, believes there has been a cover-up. “We absolutely disagree with the position of the United Nations and we can conclude that this official position is run by the industry. They want to forget about Chernobyl which is the last obstacle for nuclear renaissance.” Some 600,000 people received high levels of exposure and several million still live in contaminated areas.