Pollution from nuclear
energy and weapons programmes has been blamed for 65 million deaths by a scientific committee headed by a UK
The findings, published today in a report from the European Committee of Radiation Risk (ECRR ), show previous figures dramatically under-estimated the nuclear industry's impact on human life.
The report has prompted immediate calls for the Government to rethink its support for the nuclear industry or share responsibility for millions of deaths worldwide.
Speaking at a press conference in the European Parliament, Green MEP Caroline Lucas today said: "These shocking new figures give the nuclear debate a renewed urgency. People are dying - and continue to die - in their millions. The Government must call an immediate review of its support for the nuclear industry or bear moral - and potentially legal - responsibility for this tragic and avoidable loss of human life."
The ECRR, an international group of 30 independent scientists led by Dr Chris Busby (member of UK government's radiation risk committee and advisor to the Ministry of Defence on the use of depleted uranium) and Professor Alexey Yablokov (member of the Russian Academy of Sciences), estimates that radioactive releases up to 1989 have caused, or will eventually cause, the death of 65 million people world-wide.
Its report, which uses a new risk assessment model developed over the last five years, concludes that that the present cancer epidemic is a result of pollution from nuclear energy and of exposures to global atmospheric weapons fallout, which peaked in the period 1959-63.
Commenting on the report, Dr Lucas MEP said: "We have known for years that nuclear pollution, from nuclear power plants, reprocessing plants and from weapons, has been very damaging for human health. Only with the publication of this research do we see the full scale of the folly of the nuclear industry.
"There have been concerns for years that we have been underestimating the ill health caused by nuclear pollution. This new research cites vast amounts of evidence such as the levels of breast cancer in women who were adolescent between 1957 and 1963 when nuclear weapons testing was at its peak".
The ECRR findings are a direct challenge to the convention methods of calculating risk of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP). The ICRP had been widely criticised as being too close to the nuclear industry and lacking balance.
Dr Lucas continued: "The fact that existing analysis could not account for the abnormally high local levels of illnesses like childhood leukaemia was more a reflection on the research methodology than the acclaimed safety of the nuclear project."