Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Good News From a Terrible Event?

According to the Chernobyl Forum, death rates due to released radiation may be far lower than feared.
VIENNA, Austria - Fewer than 60 deaths have been directly attributed to radiation released by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident, and the final toll could be thousands less than originally believed, the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency said Monday.

While this is good news, I have always been deeply sceptical about this type of statistical forecasting. Methodology is king in this type of work, and the definitions used are too sensitive to political manipulation.

Speaking of political manipulation:
Greenpeace condemned the findings, accusing the IAEA of "whitewashing" the impacts of the accident.

"Denying the real implications is not only insulting the thousands of victims — who are told to be sick because of stress and irrational fear — but it also leads to dangerous recommendations, to relocate people in contaminated areas," said Jan Vande Putte, Greenpeace International nuclear campaigner.

Of course, Mr. Vande Putte is off base saying what the "real implications" are without offering any counter-evidence. Color me unconvinced either way.

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