We have to admit that, despite the fact that over 20 years have passed after the accident at Chernobyl NPP, the authorities of the Republic of Belarus and the international community still have not resolved the issue of eliminating its consequences, including protection of the population from constant exposure to radiation. The most pressing matter is to ensure compliance of agricultural products with the radiation safety regulations.
Consumption of food produced on the territory polluted with Cs-137 and Sr-90 radioactive elements posed and still poses the main danger to people’s health. For many years foodstuffs containing radioactive elements have been causing chronic irradiation of the majority of the Republic’s population (the internal irradiation dose is accumulated primarily due to Caesium-137 entering the people’s bodies with food).
Exposure of the population of the Republic of Belarus to radiation resulted in an increase in incidence rates of many classes of diseases, particularly cardiovascular diseases and malignant tumours. A steady rise of these pathologies for the last 22 years after the accident at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant has led to a situation close to a demographic catastrophe, with the death rate in a number of districts reaching twice the birth rate. The situation with the health of Chernobyl NPP disaster fighters is even graver, which naturally causes reasonable concerns among the international community for the health of this category of Belarusian citizens.
The current situation calls for immediate decisions on both national and international levels aimed at resolution of the problem – protection of health of citizens residing on the territories affected by the accident at Chernobyl NPP.
However, despite the situation at hand, it should be mentioned that the interest of the international community towards Chernobyl issues is declining. This is caused both by efforts of a number of international organizations and individuals to minimize the medical consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe and the stance taken by Belarusian authorities which have been concealing the true information about the effects of the largest anthropogenic catastrophe of the 20th century for many years – since the Soviet times.
It is this lack of unbiased information about the consequences of the catastrophe at Chernobyl NPP that prevents the international community from organizing effective aid to population residing on the affected territories.
With the aim of resolving the existing problems, the participants of the conference “Scientific and Humanitarian Initiatives for Support of Liquidators and Victims of Catastrophe in Chernobyl” declare their support to the project of establishing a Chernobyl initiatives network in general, and in the form of a network of international researchers and organizations working on the problem of the effect caused by radiation agents on the human body and elimination of consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe in particular. Consolidation of scientists and public figures within such a network will allow coordinating their activities to ensure acquisition of unbiased scientific information on effects of radiation and other external environmental factors on the human body including data obtained in the course of scientific research, dissemination of this information among the world public and governmental agencies, development of proposals, and performance of specific health protection measures.
Ecology and Health International research and analytical centre tasked with facilitating specific actions aimed at resolution of Chernobyl issues should become one of the primary tools for such activities.
Creation of this organization predetermines participation in its activities together with a wide international representation of organizations and individuals, including representatives of the Belarusian scientific community.
The Conference is aimed at pointing out the following actions currently necessary to mitigate the negative effects of the radiation factor on human health:
1. Tightening the radiation control over radionuclide content in foodstuffs – the Government of the Republic of Belarus should pass a decision to revise the existing Permissible Radiation Levels (PRLs) which currently facilitate chronic irradiation of the population.
2. Strict governmental control over intake of radionuclides with food, provision of the population with foodstuffs that do not contain radioactive elements.
3. Performance of radiation monitoring (determination of radionuclides content in the body) on all residents of the Republic of Belarus.
4. Performance of systemic medical surveillance over the health condition of the population which is constantly being exposed to radiation (including exposure through foodstuffs), with mandatory registration of radioactive elements content in people’s bodies.
5. Continuous provision of necessary medical and social aid to persons affected by the radiation factor in the course of eliminating the consequences of the accident at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant or residing on the territory with high level of radioactive pollution.
The participants of the Conference express their solidarity with and support to Chernobyl disaster fighters and appeal to the authorities of the Republic of Belarus to revise their decision to deprive this category of citizens of social assistance.
The participants of the Conference declare their support to the proposal of establishing an international syndicate of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster fighters tasked with facilitation of legal protection of this category of citizens as well as to creation of an international association in support of Chernobyl disaster fighters and victims, the main objective of which would be to provide specific assistance to the victims of the Chernobyl catastrophe and those involved in elimination of its consequences.