30 March 2006

Irish deaths linked to Chernobyl

Daily Ireland

Call for new probe into disaster

By Eamonn Houston

There were calls yesterday for the setting up of a scientific investigation into the possible harmful health effects in Ireland as a result of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Research published earlier this month suggested that more than 1,000 infants in Britain may have died as a result of radioactive clouds that swept across a swath of Europe following an explosion at the Chernobyl plant in 1986.
Epidemiologist and statistician John Urquhart found that infant deaths in Britain had increased in the years following the Ukranian reactor explosion.
He also suggested that there might have been child deaths in Ireland.

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Executive Director of the Chernobyl Children's Project Adi Roche paying a visit to the President at Aras An Uachtarain, along with Alexy Barrett from the Chernobyl Children's Project (Photo: Photocall Ireland 21/12/2004)

In the wake of this suggestion, Louth Fine Gael councillor Michael O’Dowd — the chairman of the All-Ireland Forum of Nuclear-Free Local Authorities — yesterday called for an independent scientific probe into the disaster’s effects on Ireland.
It is feared that the Chernobyl explosion could have been responsible for up to 200 additional infant deaths in the Southern state.
Mr O’Dowd, said: “The evidence in relation to the additional deaths in the UK was compelling as the geographic distribution of the fatalities coincided with rainfall patterns in the UK as the radioactive plume from the Chernobyl reactor explosion drifted across the country.
“In relation to Ireland, that detailed information was not available. However, when comparing different countries in western Europe for the six years after the accident, John Urquhart found excess infant deaths occurred in Nordic countries and the Republic of Ireland.”
Mr O’Dowd said further investigation was needed into the explosion’s possible effects on infants in Ireland.
Next month a relief convoy will travel from Ireland to Belarus, which was particularly affected by the Chernobyl explosion. A convoy made up of 15 articulated trucks and 27 ambulances carrying €3 million (£2 million) worth of aid will leave on Sunday, April 9. Volunteers from across the country will travel as part of Adi Roche’s Chernobyl Children’s Project International.
The effort is the 27th convoy to deliver aid from Ireland and is the biggest yet. It will pass through ten European countries. The ambulances that make up the convoy will be delivered to hospitals, health clinics and orphanages throughout the area around Chernobyl.
The fundraising efforts of various groups and individuals throughout Ireland made it possible to buy the ambulances.

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