By Pavol Stracansky
KIEV, Aug 20, 2010 (IPS) - Almost 25 years after the world’s worst nuclear accident a series of new scientific studies have suggested the effects of the Chernobyl disaster have been underestimated.
Scientists last month published information that, contradicting previous claims, animal populations are declining in the exclusion zone surrounding the site of the former Soviet nuclear power plant, and that radiation contamination effects following the explosion had been "overwhelming".
The German government also reported that compensation payouts made to hunters capturing radioactive wild boar had quadrupled in the last two years as more and more animals were found to have high levels of caesium.
This came just months after doctors in the Ukraine and Belarus said they had seen a rise in cancer rates, mutations and blood diseases in patients they believe are linked to Chernobyl. And a separate U.S. study published in April claimed there had been a rise in birth defects thought to be linked to continuing exposure to low-level radiation doses.
Campaigners against nuclear power say that the studies show that people will be living with the devastating consequences of the disaster for decades, possibly centuries, to come.
Rianne Teule, a campaigner on nuclear issues at Greenpeace, told IPS: "This is a problem that will not go away in a few years, it will be here for hundreds of years to come.
"The new studies confirm that the problems, as presented in 2006 by the World Health Organisation and International Atomic Energy Agency, were really much bigger and will continue to exist and be shown up in other studies. It is not something that is going to go away soon."
When one of the blocks of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in what is today the Ukraine exploded in April 1986, it caused the world’s worst nuclear disaster. It was estimated that the total radioactivity from Chernobyl was...