Statement by Achim Steiner at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety
Statement delivered on behalf of Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director by Malcolm Crick Secretary, UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation
Vienna, 21 June 2011 - President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
On the 26th April 1986 the accident at Chernobyl in present-day Ukraine showed that an accident at a nuclear power station had global impact:
- Populations in other countries were exposed;
- Rates of thyroid cancer increased among children in the region;
- Long-lived radioactivity appeared in all components of the environment;
- Farming practices as far away as the United Kingdom and Scandinavia were affected and remain so even today;
- Lland use changed dramatically, and trade and tourism was disrupted;
- There were dramatic socio-economic costs of extensive protective actions, including population resettlement, decontamination, countermeasures for agriculture and forestry, aquatic and wild food products, and restriction of access to recreation areas;
- And many communities continue to suffer distress and anxiety about their future with impact on their health and well-being.
Many of us thought that we would never see such an accident again in our lifetimes. Yet, ironically when we were preparing to mark the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl accident and its continuing impact, we witnessed the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
The United Nations Environment Programme expresses again its solidarity with the government and people of Japan, and stands ready to work together with Japan in overcoming the major environmental impact of the tsunami, including assessing and addressing significant chemical and other environmental hazards created.