Steuart Campbell and I should not be accused of flippancy over Chernobyl deaths (John Barrett, Letters, 14 February).
It was a tragic event but it was actually small on the scale of man-made disasters. For example, one single Chinese hydro event killed more than 200,000 people and there have been far more serious health problems and early deaths arising from neodynium extraction for, for example, wind turbine magnets; coal and oil disasters; chemical factory incidents and so on.
The actions of governments driven by what was even then known to be suspect reasoning into a frenzy of “being seen to do something” in the aftermath of the reactor event caused far more subsequent misery and health problems than the nuclear aspects ever did or will.
I have no vested interest in the nuclear energy industry. My real concern is that it alone, of all energy generation methods, has been singled out for what I have described as witchcraft treatment. My banter was aimed at the witches, not the Chernobyl incident itself.
(Dr) A McCormick
John Barrett should be aware that anecdotes are no substitute for clinical evidence. He should read Shunichi Yamashita’s report, Chernobyl Beyond 20 Years and Thyroid Cancer. It says “about 5,000 childhood and adolescent cases of thyroid cancers have been diagnosed from 1990 until 2005 around Chernobyl, with fewer than 20 deaths reported”.
None of these cancers would have occurred had iodine tablets been issued promptly to the local population. There was no need for any child to die as a result of the accident. Most of those with thyroid cancers have been saved by surgery and medication.