In 1992, it was estimated that there were 187 instances of acute radiation sickness as a result of involvement in the accident and its cleanup, and 5,237 people unable to work for the same reason, while 15,000 had contracted radiation-related diseases. The rate of thyroid cancer in children has risen from 1 per million in 1984, to 100 per million in 1991. The incidence of throat cancer in Ukraine as a whole has doubled.
Amongst the group of accident liquidators, the rate of incidence of tumours has increased 2 times, and 5.7 times in those exposed to the greatest radiation. In addition, the level of all sicknesses has increased significantly. The greatest increases are in diseases relating to the blood, endocrine, and nervous system. Only 18% of the liquidators are now considered to be in good health. Children from contaminated regions suffer from immune system suppression, and from respiratory 25-40% more virus infections than previously.
The Chernobyl disaster has been called ‚the biggest socio-economic catastrophe of peacetime history'. 24,500Km2 (2.45million Ha) of land in the former USSR is contaminated with more than 185 kBq/m2 (5 curies/km2), including 1.35 million ha in Belorus, 725,000 Ha in Russia, and 377,000Ha in the Ukraine. 50% of the area of Ukraine is in some way contaminated, and 4.7 million ha of once good land is too radioactive to be used for anything.
By 1994, 200,000 people from within the 30 km radius of the reactor had been evacuated and resettled. It is estimated that 1.7 million people have been directly affected by the disaster, while 2.4 million people live on land considered to be contaminated, excluding 3.7 million Kiev inhabitants. 2,400 families are officially registered as having lost a breadwinner as a result of the disaster.
About 7% of Ukraine's budget goes to cleanup of the accident, while it is estimated that 20% would be required to cover the real cost. 25 million cubic metres of topsoil have been removed in 944 inhabited areas, and in 160 hectares of forest.
In March 1995, a European Commission study on the sarcophagus concluded that: The existing structure cannot be stable in the long term, and may collapse during a seismic event. Construction of a new sarcophagus, called ‚Shelter-2' is urgent. The cost could be as high as $1bn.
But some international safety experts disagree. The highest priority is not the construction of a second sarcophagus, but rather dealing with the radio active materials which were spread at varying distances at the time of the explosion. This creates a greater hazard than the sarcophagus, which will not likely release radiation in significant quantities as compared to that which needs to be managed from the original explosion. But the estimated cost of this could be much higher.
In 1994, the official death toll of deaths directly related to Chernobyl was estimated at 125,000, counting only the Ukraine, but unfortunately this number includes many older people who might have died anyway in this 10 year period. There is not currently a death toll number which is considered highly reliable. If you know of reliable literature on the number of deaths please tell us