Ukraine Rada deputy Yury Solomatin considering the essential problem of radiation protection of the population
On April 17, 2003 parliamentarian hearing of the subject "17 years after the Chernobyl tragedy. Experience of overcoming" was held in the Ukrainian Supreme Rada. At the hearing, I was extremely surprised how majority of Chernobyl "patriots" demonstrated their ignorance of the issue of people's radiation protection. On April 25, I took part in the international scientific conference "17 years since the Chernobyl tragedy: problems and solutions" in the republic of Belarus. The conference was dedicated to opening of the first phase of a modern Republican Scientific Center of Radiation Medicine and Human Ecology in the Belarus city of Gomel. And once again, I observed the same things as at the hearing in the Rada. This fact is actually very alarming. What is more, it has become the top priority problem in development of a scientifically grounded strategy for further overcoming of the Chernobyl disaster consequences.
There is a picture by artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder from the Netherlans in a museum in Naples, it is the Parable of the Blind Leading the Blind. The artist depicted a group of miserable, dirty and ragged blind men, holding on to each other with the blind eyes directed up to the sky. A blind leader is at the head of the line, he is leading the whole of the group toward a close abyss. To my opinion, out Chernobyl neophytes in radiation protection mostly remind me of the blind men in the picture. They are led by well-known, but irresponsible writers and publicists. Majority of them are not simply uneducated (this problem is reparable after all), but they won't realize their ignorance. What is more, these people are even proud of their ignorance on the problem, which in its turn is widely published in the Ukrainian mass media every year. This has become some kind of the national Chernobyl masochism practically implanted on the social genetic level. This is a catastrophe of the conscience of the whole of the nation.
I have every reason to believe that opinions of many Ukrainians concerning the scale of the Chernobyl tragedy have been artificially distorted, they are changing very slowly and stand far from the truth. Thus, the truth is moving further and further away from us. This happens because there is a well-known Ukrainian phrase saying that every Ukrainian hut has its own truth about Chernobyl. To be more precise, as Georgian philosopher Merab Mamardashvili defines, it is rather incomplete truth than exact truth.
This happens because the Chernobyl problem is still captured by the counter-revolution of ignorance, some kind of deception when anyone but specialists and scientists is determining the ways for problem solution. And this is the reason why I decided to write this article.
The fundamentals of radiation protection of the population suffered in the tragedy at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on April 26, 1986 are based upon the basic legislation acts passed by the Ukrainian Supreme Council on February 27, 1991. This is first of all "The Concept of residence of the population on the Ukrainian territories contaminated after the tragedy at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant". The Concept is known under its short name "7-rem radiation protection concept".
The Concept was put into action 12 years ago, two Chernobyl laws were adopted as based on it. Within the time, it became clear that not only some regulations of the Concept and the laws based on it lacked correspondence. What is more strange, it became clear that not only the community failed to understand the issue of the Concept and the laws, but those people who considered themselves experts at these problems turned out to be ignorant in fact. It is very dangerous for people and for the whole of the independent state of Ukraine when people with such mentality attempt to interfere into the serious problems of radiation protection of the population.
What do I mean? I would like to go to the Concept which basic principle says that a critical group of the population (it includes children born before 1986) is allowed to suffer an equivalent dose of extra radiation caused by the Chernobyl catastrophe, the dose makes up 0.1 rem per year and 7 rem within the whole lifetime above the radiation dose that people caught before the tragedy under the natural conditions.
It is strange, but neither the Concept nor the two laws based on it mention what dose exactly the Ukrainian population caught before the Chernobyl tragedy. To what amount of radiation do people have to add the radiation they caught as a result of the Chernobyl tragedy? This is the problem when law makers concealed the whole truthin 1991, the incomplete truth which sometimes is even worse than undisguised lies.
Scientists and researchers know the answer to the question what was the radiation level before the tragedy at the nuclear power plant. However, the fact became some kind of a national taboo which must be kept secret. This is just exactly the sphere where the Chernobyl so-called "experts" show extreme resistance when they are offered to reveal the truth about the level of radiation before the Chernobyl tragedy. We would like to unveil the secret which is protected more severely that even Communist Party secrets in the Soviet era.
According to the data provided by the national medicine (the Radiation Medicine Research Center in Ukraine's Academy of Medical Sciences), the average effective radiation dose caught by the Ukrainian population from non-Chernobyl sources of natural origin makes up 5.3 (up to 6) milli Sivert per year, including up to 70% of the natural radioactive gas radon in living quarters, which on the whole makes up over 37 (up to 42) rem over 70 years of life. This is exactly the radiation background against which we have to prevent extra radiation connected with the Chernobyl tragedy, which in its turn must be lower than 0.1 rem per year and 7 rem within 70 years. In other words, we must prevent a 20% excess of radiation as compared with the level fixed before the Chernobyl tragedy.
Thus, an average Ukrainian citizen catches about 50 rem of radiation over 70 years of life (which includes the 37-42 rem of radiation fixed in the pre-tragedy period plus the 7 rem which are said to be the radiation level absorbed by people after the disaster).
Taking the figures into consideration, in 1991-1998 the Former Ukrainian State Chernobyl Committee ordered to carry out a research scientific program Radon on the territories contaminated as a result of the Chernobyl disaster. The program was realized by the Scientific Center of Radiation Medicine in Ukraine's Academy of Sciences, I also participated in the program realization. The program revealed that it was necessary to take into account the natural radiation dose (particularly, because of radon) on the territories contaminated after the tragedy and also during resettlement of people from the contaminated to clean territories. It was determined that almost in half of villages resettled to clean territories away from those contaminated as a result of the Chernobyl tragedy the aggregate dose exceeded the dose (including the dose caused by the catastrophe) in that places from where the people had been resettled. It happened because the people were resettled to those places without taking into account the geological structure and radiation geochemical peculiarities of the local rock in the new places. That is how our "experts" at Chernobyl problems realized forced resettlement of the people with the good intention of saving the victims. Such is the price of insufficient professionalism, bureaucratic self-confidence and
incompetence in taking of administrative decisions.
What is more, on the most part of the territories of the Kiev and Zhitomir regions, which belong to the zones of radioactive contamination, the present-day radiation dose is ten times higher than the remains of the Chernobyl radiation because of radon discovered in these regions. However, this fact is obviously ignored now. This is the most unpleasant secret that has been concealed by Chernobyl "experts" within 12 years already.
The contradictory situation that arises in connection with the one-sided application of the 7-rem Concept requires immediate scientifically weighted legislative regulation.
An important conclusion can be drawn at that: while solving problems of radiation protection of the population, it is important to develop a general concept of radiation protection together with different departments. This concept must include the total limit of radiation dose from all radioactive sources of different origins, including the one that emerged after the Chernobyl disaster. As a result of the recent parliamentary hearing, this directive was issued for the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers. My opinion is that it is the top priority for the national radiation hygiene and for radiology on the whole. This is the point of honor for scientists, researchers and specialists from all sister nations, Belarus, Russia and Ukraine that suffered as a result of the Chernobyl tragedy. This is the point of honor of the whole world science!
Ukraine People's Deputy
Member of the Supreme Rada Committee for Ecology Policy, nature management and liquidation of Chernobyl catastrophe consequences
The Russian forces destroyed a column of NATO armoured vehicles that had been delivered to the Ukrainian army.