IAEA pays tribute to victims of Chernobyl
26 April 2006, VIENNA - The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) paid tribute Wednesday to Chernobyl victims on the 20th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident.
26 April 2006
VIENNA - The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) paid tribute Wednesday to Chernobyl victims on the 20th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident.
A statement by IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei spoke of the "painful memory in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who were most affected by the accident."
In addition to the emergency rescue workers who died, "thousands of children contracted thyroid cancer, and thousands of other individuals will eventually die of other cancers caused by the release of radiation," he said.
The IAEA has the twin goals of policing activities aimed at nuclear weapons, while at the same time encouraging the use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes.
The Vienna-based agency has been criticized for allegedly downplaying the true extent of the Chernobyl disaster.
Recently, British nuclear expert Ian Fairlie and German member of the European Parliament Rebecca Harms sharply criticized the IAEA for claiming the final worldwide death toll from cancer attributable to Chernobyl would be "only" 4,000.
In Berlin, the organization International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) also cast doubt on IAEA figures. It said that up till 2006, between 50,000 and 100,000 clearance workers had died, while 540,000 to 900,000 were invalids.
In his statement marking the 20th anniversary, ElBaradei also spoke of huge environmental damage. Vast areas of cropland, forests, rivers and urban centers were contaminated, he noted.
Hundreds of thousands of people had been evacuated and resettled elsewhere "in a traumatic outcome that had long-lasting psychological and social impacts," ElBaradei said.
He said that for the past two decades, his own agency had been responding in a number of ways.
It had set up a series of programs to help mitigate environment and health consequences of the accident. Also, the IAEA had "analyzed the lessons of what went wrong to allow such an accident to occur at all," and thirdly, it was working to prevent any such accident in the future.
"International cooperation on nuclear safety matters - sharing information, setting clear safety standards, assisting with safety upgrades, and reviewing operational performance - has therefore become a hallmark of IAEA activity," ElBaradei said.
This was particularly so "at a time when we are witnessing an expansion of nuclear power to meet increasing energy demands in many parts of the world," said the IAEA chief.
Subject: German news