Chernobyl myths

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Alistair Munro’s account of Valerii Rysovanyi’s experience (“A Hero of Chernobyl”, 26 April) contains exaggerations and myths. Thousands of people have not died as a result of the disaster and there is no evidence of long-term effects such as cancers and deformities.

In 2005, the Chernobyl Forum, a United Nations group speaking for the International Atomic Energy Agency, World Health Organisation, World Bank, UN Development Programme and the governments of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, reported that the death toll “so far” was 56. These comprised 47 emergency workers (29 died within four months and 19 more died by 2004) and nine children who died of thyroid cancer.

It is hardly surprising that many of the 600,000 workers are now dead (I would expect about 25 of them to die each day from various causes). But it’s very unlikely that any of them have died from radiation effects. Several organisations are exploiting the Chernobyl myths for propaganda purposes. No doubt children from the affected areas could do with holidays giving them better food and a cleaner environment, but they will not be suffering the effects of radiation.

Steuart Campbell

Dovecot Loan

Edinburgh