“Chernobyl” lying: how many actually people died in the accident?

Released in may, the mini-series “Chernobyl” has stunned the audience with great attention to detail and realism: its landscape, buildings and interior elements as if he moved the inhabitants of the countries of the former USSR in the mid-1980s. Also the picture is full of horrific scenes with people dying, but popular columnist for Forbes Michael shellenberger believes that the authors of the series have deliberately exaggerated the number of victims and the severity of their injuries, to add drama. His words he confirmed by references to official UN report.

In his opinion, in fact, during the Chernobyl disaster killed far fewer people, and most deaths were not associated with radiation exposure. In the first episode of the series, after the reactor explosion injured gets a lot of people: workers face blush, tears and most of them, apparently, die. One of the station staff from different parts of the body bleed, and later, station Manager learns about the severity of the disaster and very ill.

The number of victims of the Chernobyl disaster

According to Michael shellenberger, in fact, in the first hours of the disaster killed two workers, and this is evidenced by the 66 page official UN report (PDF). Most interesting is that they did not die because of the radiation: one received fatal injuries from the scattered after the explosion of shrapnel, and the other died from burns caused by fire.

The number of victims has only increased two weeks later from the effects of burns (caused by fire!) began to die the people who arrived at the crash site first. According to page 624 of the report, in five cases, skin damage from burns and radiation, only one was fatal. Six employees have survived because they received injuries were not critical.

Frame from the series “Chernobyl”

The journalist asked for a comment from Professor Geraldine Thomas, who explained that in most cases people who received burns died from infections. According to her, the human skin is the main protective barrier against germs in the human body. In the case of victims of the Chernobyl disaster, this protection was destroyed by the burns, and patients like no one else was infected.

Thus, referring to the UN report, Michael shellenberger concluded that the disaster in Chernobyl is associated only 31 deaths. It is noteworthy that at the scene, 3 people were killed and 28 others died of his wounds. To the victims of the disaster indirectly include 19 people who died because of tuberculosis, liver cirrhosis and heart attacks, but the involvement of radiation to the development of these diseases is not proven.

Radiation causes cancer of the thyroid gland?

20 000 people during the disaster were less than 18 years, were later found to be thyroid cancer. Previously, the UN believed that 18,000 cases of cancer were associated with radiation exposure, but renewal 2017 (PDF), the organization reduced that number to 5,000. Of these 5,000 people, likely died only 50-160, because the mortality rate from thyroid cancer is only 1%, and the majority of the victims are elderly.

In addition, Michael shellenberger believes that the Chernobyl disaster is not necessarily the cause of congenital defects in children. As evidence, he cited the results of a study at Oxford University in 2017 (PDF) — scientists do not find convincing evidence that radiation is causing birth defects. In other works, where the danger of radiation was confirmed, and the journalist have not found information about the diet of mothers and their bad habits that equally could cause deviations.

The most terrible catastrophe

The Chernobyl disaster, of course, a terrible tragedy that affected the whole world. But Michael shellenberger noticed that history has happened and more large-scale emergency incident that claimed the lives of far more people. Take, for example, the collapse of the Banqiao damkilled about 230 000 people, or the Bhopal disaster, which killed 15 000 to 18 000 people.

The journalist also found data about the numerous victims of the fires. So, in case of fire in the English building, Grenfell Tower in 2017 burned 71 people. During the fire of the twin towers in September 2001, the lives lost 343 firefighters. In addition, he cited statistics of deaths for more banal reasons: during a walk a year die 270 000 people, the casualties of car accidents is 1 350 000 people, and during operation dies 2 300 000 people.

The collapse of the Banqiao dam

After such comparisons on Twitter, the journalist began to be criticized for insensitivity. However, according to the author of the article, this callousness and disrespect — a deliberate exaggeration of the number of victims of the disaster and restoring unnecessary panic.

About the TV series “Chernobyl”, it seems possible to talk forever — talk about it, do not cease even after two months from the date of release. On our website you can find a dozen articles which talks about similar disasters, the accuracy of the series from the point of view of the science and safety of nuclear reactors.

I advise you to read:

Watched the TV series “Chernobyl” and could not calm down? Read what happened after the accident

And in General, do you agree with the opinion of Michael shellenberger? Share your opinion in the comments, or join the conversation in our Telegram chat.

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