FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
APRIL 25, 2006
Jan vande Putte, Greenpeace International Nuclear Campaign, +32496161584.
Ivan Blokov, Greenpeace International Nuclear Campaign, + 31 6 461 77536
Radioactive Soil from Ukraine ‘Returned’ to IAEA by Greenpeace
VIENNA, Austria - APRIL 25 - Radioactive soil from a public area outside the exclusion zone at the site of
the Chernobyl disaster – so contaminated it must be classified as radioactive waste under European law - was delivered today to headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) by Greenpeace activists.
Environmentalists carried a 250kg concrete container containing two 1kg
radioactive samples into the lobby of the UN building in Vienna,
unfolding banners reading “IAEA Stop Whitewashing Chernobyl”. The
action was carried out to highlight the IAEA’s continued downplaying of
the consequences of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. To ensure public
safety, the soil samples delivered to the IAEA were shielded by 10cm of
concrete and a layer of lead.
The radioactive soil was taken by Greenpeace from locations between
40km and 50km from the Chernobyl reactor – in areas well outside the
exclusion zone to which people have free access. They were sent to
laboratories in Ukraine and Austria (1). Most worrying was the
discovery of a so-called 'hot particle' in a sample that was sent to
the laboratory. This is a small but highly radioactive grain of spent
fuel, which was ejected from the reactor by the explosion. Such a grain
is highly dangerous if inhaled or ingested or when it comes into
prolonged contact with the body.
“People harvest wood, mushrooms and berries from those forests, not
knowing that they are subjecting their health to serious radiation
risk. The samples are 10-25 times more radioactive than the limits set
by the European Commission for defining a substance as radioactive
waste” said Ivan Blokov, Greenpeace nuclear campaigner.
The action coincides with the launch of a Greenpeace report (2)
reviewing the present radioactive contamination in Ukraine and the
condition of more than 20 million cubic metres of radioactive
waste, hastily dumped in the aftermath of the accident. This is a
ticking time bomb that could further contaminate the region possibly as
far as the Dnjepr River, the main drinking water reserve of Ukraine.
Greenpeace is calling for urgent measures to control and condition this
The IAEA should stop massaging statistics, denying facts and,
downplaying the impact of Chernobyl, said Ivan Blokov.” The samples are
physical evidence of how contaminated some parts of the Ukraine still
are, and IAEA consideration to relocate people in areas that have been
evacuated could involve serious health risks” he added.
The Greenpeace 'Health' report published last Thursday (3),
demonstrated that the IAEA is minimising the health impacts of the
Chernobyl accident. Greenpeace accuses the IAEA of disseminating
disinformation as part of its pro-nuclear agenda and is calling on
Governments worldwide to amend the Statutes of the IAEA and remove art.
2 and its 'promotional' function (4), which contradicts its