Belarus seeks review of report on effects of Chernobyl disaster+

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)MINSK, March 16_(Kyodo) _ Belarus has proposed that revisions be made to an international report compiled last year summarizing the effects of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which it views as being too hasty in estimating the health effects, the head of the Belarusian committee on Chernobyl said Wednesday.

The government of Belarus, the country hardest hit by the disaster that occurred during the Soviet era, made the written proposal to the International Atomic Energy Agency in late February, said Vladimir Tsalko, head of the Chernobyl committee under the Belarusian ministerial council.

Tsalko said he cannot understand why the report wants to make haste in reaching a conclusion on the health effects when it cannot be said that the effects from the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been fully ascertained after 60 years.

"We saw occurrences of childhood thyroid cancer 10 years after (Chernobyl) and there could still be new illnesses," Tsalko told Kyodo News.

"I wonder if the International Atomic Energy Agency wants to make people think that the Chernobyl issue has ended. We must be careful when it comes to the health of human beings," he said.

Last September, the IAEA and other international organizations released the report, which estimated that up to 4,000 people could eventually die of radiation exposure from the April 26, 1986 accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

It said there were no signs that the incidence of leukemia increased and no evidence or likelihood of decreased fertility among residents of contaminated areas, and claimed there had been observation of overcautious behavior and exaggerated health concerns by some of the residents.

The report was prepared by the Chernobyl forum, made up of the IAEA and seven other U.N. agencies, as well as the governments of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.

Citizens' groups and medical practitioners have criticized the estimate as too small, and the criticism from Belarus, which took part in compiling the report, could spark international debate on the issue ahead of the 20th anniversary of the accident next month.

An IAEA official said there has been an agreement to revise part of the report in response to the proposal by Belarus, but it would not affect its substantive contents. The official did not elaborate.

Belarus pointed out to the IAEA that the report does not mention the increase in the incidence of breast cancer, urological cancer and lung cancer among residents of affected areas and those who were engaged in cleaning up after the accident, or the higher occurrence of bronchial ailments and heart disease among them compared with the overall population, according to Tsalko.

The government also said the report was insufficient in that it does not bring up an estimate by the World Health Organization that the number of people who suffer thyroid cancer as a result of Chernobyl will reach 8,000 to 10,000 in the near future.

Tsalko said although Belarus took part in compiling the report, its representatives mainly discussed the environmental effects of the accident.