Fear was the major danger in 1986

It turns out that scaring people to death may be more than a figure of speech. That’s the overriding message of a recently released U.N. report on the health effects of the 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the then-Soviet Ukraine.

The result of an exhaustive investigation by eight U.N. agencies, the report concludes that a “paralyzing fatalism” among the residents of the effected areas and problems such as suicide, alcoholism and clinical depression — resulting in part from people’s perceived sense of hopelessness — “pose a far greater threat to local communities than does radiation exposure.”

according to the report, there have been fewer than 60 fatalities so far, about 50 of them on-site staff and emergency workers exposed to massive radiation poisoning at the time of the blast and its immediate aftermath. It is believed that nine children have also died of thyroid cancer as a result of the accident, though these deaths may have been preventable.
[Joshua Gilder, Washington Times 05oc25]

There is, of course, the prediction that there might be many more deaths but substantiation for this anticipation is meager. Meanwhile, there are people who forgoe medical tests because of fear of radiation and others who obstruct by any means possible nuclear power plants or waste disposal.

What is known, no matter how well known, does not seem to penetrate the fog of fear that some insist upon. The question is how much it will cost in environmental impact, national security, and irrational decision making to support this fog of fear.

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