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1,000 Cancer Deaths Due to Chernobyl Expected in Europe

March 25, 1987

LONDON (AP) _ About 1,000 people will die of cancer in Western Europe over the next 50 years because of radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, says a British study released Wednesday.

About 750 of the deaths will occur in West Germany and Italy, which were exposed to the highest radiation doses in the 12-nation European Economic Community, said the study.

The study was conducted by Britain’s state-funded National Radiological Protection Board for the European Economic Community’s executive commission.

It said about 30 million of the community’s 320 million residents will die from cancer caused by other sources over the same 50-year period. Determining which deaths are related to the Chernobyl accident will be impossible, the study said.

One of the authors said about 2,000 non-fatal thyroid cancers would occur in the 12 member states because of Chernobyl fallout.

Worldwide, as many as 150,000 extra cases of cancer attributable to Chernobyl will occur in the next 50 years, according to various estimates, including by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.

On April 26 last year, an explosion and fire inside a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Soviet Ukraine killed 31 people and exposed thousands to radiation.

Clouds of radioactive cesium-134, iodine-131 and strontium were carried by winds into Europe.

The British environmental pressure group Friends of the Earth said the board’s figure of 1,000 Chernobyl-related cancer deaths was too low. It said the board used the lowest radiation risk estimates available, and it claimed there was a scientific consensus that at least 2,000 deaths would result.

One of the study’s authors, Mary Morrey, said the variation in the doses is ″due to the different weather conditions experienced in each country as the (radioactive) cloud passed overhead.

″In particular, where it rained heavily, doses are higher, for example parts of southern Germany, northern Italy and Greece,″ she said in a radio interview with the British Broadcasting Corp.

Of the non-fatal cancers considered in the report, only thyroid cancers were studied, she said, and ″we estimate about 2,000 of these cancers would occur.″

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