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Kathy Ryan

Rob, I had the opportunity to testify before the US Congress and Helsinki Commission on the ongoing impact of Chernobyl in Belarus. I think it is important to point out that it took 10 years after the accident for the WHO to acknowledge that local reports of dramatic increases in thyroid cancer were fact.

The whole region is indeed plagued with health issues. For example, a cardiac surgeon we have been sending into Belarus has found a dramatic increase in congenital cardiac abnormalities (Ebstein's and multiple ASDs -- an increase that started in 1986. Whether this is caused by Chernobyl is not known without further research. The former soviet union had a terrible environmental record. And we know that fossil fuel pollution is as harmful as nuclear.

Working as I do in Chernobyl affected communities it is very hard for me to maintain objectivity, even knowing that the advantages and disadvantages of nuclear and carbon based energy probably cancel each other out. I t is so critical to invest in alternatives, and on a personal level to just consume less.

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