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Meanwhile, In Chernobyl…

Chernobyl was about as bad as it can get for a nuclear accident, but apparently it wasn’t quite as bad as originally estimated:
Chernobyl health effects far less than U.N. feared

Nearly two decades after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine spread radioactive fallout across much of Europe, a United Nations study has concluded the health effects have been far smaller than feared.

The researchers confirmed 56 deaths. They projected that 3,940 more people would eventually die of cancer related to the accident, according to the report released Monday.

The death estimate is a fraction of the up to 150,000 deaths predicted shortly after the 1986 accident.

The higher projections of health effects resulted in part from miscalculations about the amount of radiation to which many people were exposed.

The 150,000 number is much more scary, however, and will no doubt continue to be spread around by the anti-nuclear nutters.

Unsurprisingly, there is a lesson in this for Katrina reconstruction:

But a U.N. official said the countries affected by the accident also deliberately tried to inflate the severity of its impact in order to boost the money flowing to the area.

Kalman Mizsei, an assistant U.N. secretary-general and deputy coordinator on Chernobyl said there had been “a vast interest in creating a false picture” in the respective countries involved: initially the Soviet Union, and after its breakup Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.

That contributed to misinformation and fear among the local population. Those countries then spent large amounts of money to help putative victims, helping to create “a dependency culture,” Mizsei said.

And we’re already seeing indications of this “inflation” at work:

The Louisiana Superdome was so heavily damaged during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath that it likely will have to be torn down, a disaster official working with the governor’s office told CNN.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the initial assessment of the famed dome indicated the damage is “more significant than initially thought.”

Katrina sheared away much of the roof’s covering, and rainwater began leaking into the stadium when it was being used as a shelter of last resort for thousands of residents stranded by the storm.

The Superdome is the home of the New Orleans Saints professional football team. The NFL season begins this weekend, and it is not clear where the Saints will play.

Uh-uh. And Tom Benson’s constant angling for a new stadium for his Saints and the leverage Katrina has now given him in his negotiations with Queen Bee I’m sure had nothing to do with this conclusion whatsoever. Nope. Nor the torrent of reconstruction money poised to pour into the city as the waters drain out. Hope the feds have accountants (and prosecutors) watching where all that money goes…

[Chernobyl story via Carl Carlsson]

2 comments to Meanwhile, In Chernobyl…

  • Aaron_J

    “The 150,000 number is much more scary, however, and will no doubt continue to be spread around by the anti-nuclear nutters.” Yeah, kinda like the $500 billion number that keeps popping up for a mission to Mars.

  • $500 billion? That’s a bargain — I keep hearing $1 trillion as the baseless sticker-shock figure for VSE.

    I’m waiting for someone to claim that Hurricane Katrina will put the kibosh on the VSE…”How can we spend a trillion dollars on space boondoggles when we have to spend a hundred billion rebuilding the Gulf Coast?!?!?” Surprised I haven’t heard it yet.