By Rami Abdelrahman
It is now more than two decades since the world’s worst nuclear power accident, when a reactor exploded on April 26th 1986 at Chernobyl in the then-Soviet Ukraine. While large tracts of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus were severely contaminated, many parts of Sweden also felt the effects.
Engineers at Sweden’s Forsmark power plant were the first to warn the world of the nuclear emergency after detectors showed soaring radiation levels. After inspecting the plant for leakage, Swedish officials announced that the particles came from Ukraine.
A radiation cloud had been carried by wind currents over the Baltic Sea and throughout Finland (which to this day has not revealed the results of its studies on this topic). It then swept across northern Sweden and Norway, dissipating in the Arctic part of the Norwegian Sea.
While the Chernobyl explosion recedes into history, for many people in parts of northern and central Sweden the effects are still being felt. Radiation from Chernobyl has been cited as a factor in more than 1,000 cancer deaths in Norrland between 1986 and 1999 – this in an area with a population of around one million. Experts warn that the worst is yet to come.
Swedish scientists at Linköping University have found that new types of malignancies were formed as an effect of the radiation cloud that hit areas around Gävle and Umeå the hardest in the mid-1980s.
According tol, the scientist leading the study, radiation in these areas is still regarded “much higher than normal levels”, while it drops drastically in Stockholm and southern areas.
“This is a follow up to our previous studies, which showed that out of 22,400 cases of cancer, 849 were directly related to radiation until 1996. We used different methodologies and studied different causes of cancer and still got similar results,” he tells The Local.
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