Voluntary commitment

Medical Risks posed by a severe Nuclear Power Plant Accident

Description

After the Windscale fire (1957), Three Mile Island accident (1979), Chernobyl (1986) and Fukushima (2011) severe Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) accidents are no longer virtual dangers. With many ageing NPPs and increasing meteorological instability events must be expected worldwide on a regular basis.

A severe NPP accident with a meltdown of a reactors core will release huge amounts of radioisotopes into the biosphere, causing catastrophic effects on human health and the environment. Resulting ionizing radiation threatens the life of NPP-workers and the population living near the damaged reactor. Furthermore long-term effects from external radiation and incorporated radionuclides may cause cancers and other malignant tumors. Additionally, the incidence of nonmalignant diseases caused by low dose radiation, such as cardiovascular, immunological and endocrine diseases and malformations will increase. Finally genetic alterations for exposed people and their offspring will occur and also threaten nonhuman life.

Management of nuclear disasters demand urgent decision-making and action. Effects due to ionizing radiation are highest in the first hours and evacuation may be the only solution to prevent death and longtime consequences for the victims of a nuclear disaster. Comprehensive radioprotection measures must be planned by healthcare professionals of governmental and local administrations. The population exposed to radiation must be continuously informed from the onset of a nuclear accident.

Physicians must be aware of the consequences of ionizing radiation. During their professional education they should learn the principles of prevention and treatment of radiation disease and long-term consequences of low dose radiation. Emergency decision-making and subsequent measures must be worked out and trained before an accident is taking place. Prevention of radiation disease is a responsibility for every country operating NPP’s and the neighboring states.

Targets

Prevention of cancer, leukemia, immunological diseases, cardiovascular diseases, stillbirths, spontaneous abortions, malformations, higher incidence of perinatal mortality and childhood mortality after a contamination from arelease of radioisotopes from nuclear disasters of Nuclear Industry and Nuclear Power Plants

Indicators

Incidence of cancer, leukemia, immunological diseases, cardiovascular diseases, stillbirths, spontaneous abortions, malformations, higher incidence of perinatal mortality and childhood mortality after a contamination from releases of radioisotopes from nuclear disasters. Ecological effects of radioisotope contamination like decline of populations of wild living species.

Means of verification

Global registries to observe the incidence of above mentioned indicators

Timeframe

As soon as possible (e.g. from March 2015 until July 2016)

Contact Person

Dr Martin Walter
MD, Internal Medicine, Swiss and German affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War

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