French Government Doesn't Know How the Wind Blows in Corsica

"You don't need a weather man
To know which way the wind blows"

- Bob Dylan
Subterranean Homesick Blues

This week I decided to translate an important report about a statement made by Michèle Rivasi, member of the European Parliament, representing South East France for Europe Écologie. In 1986, following the Chernobyl disaster, she founded the Commission for Independent Research and Information on Radioactivity (CRIIRAD). On July 25th, 2013 her website at the European Parliament published her comments on the reaction of the French government toward new research on the effect of Chernobyl fallout on Corsica. Ever since the disaster in 1986, the French government has denied that winds blew dangerous levels of fallout over parts of France, in particular Corsica.


Chernobyl: in the French nuclear paradise, Marisol Touraine and the government remain in their radioactive cloud

At the meeting of the [French] National Assembly, the Minister of Health, Marisol Touraine, judged a recent Italian study on Chernobyl fallout as inconclusive. The study found that in Corsica, since the passage of radioactive fallout from Chernobyl in 1986, there has been a steep increase in thyroid disease, including cancer. The next day, The Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Security (IRSN) followed suit by judging that the assumptions and methodology of the study appeared to be approximate and badly described.
Thus the denial continues 27 years after the Chernobyl catastrophe, a situation judged to be irresponsible by the European deputy Michele Rivasi, founder of CRIIRAD (Commission de recherche et d’information indépendante sur la radioactivité) who has, since its inception, supported this study based on 14,000 archived medical files, in particular 5,000 of which concern patients who were consulted before and after the accident at the Ukrainian power plant on April 26, 1986.

[Comments by Michèle Rivasi:]
What stuns me is the speed and ease with which the IRSN had rejected the study conducted by such a credible and competent scientific team supported by European initiative. The data used are sufficient and credible. The real problem is that the IRSN has always refused to recognize the danger of exposure to low doses of radiation, insisting stubbornly – as it has just done – that this study does not conform with the existing knowledge on the effects of exposure to ionizing radiation. To recognize the dangers of low doses would be to cast doubt on the standards of radioprotection, and doing so would also definitively condemn nuclear energy for health reasons.
Actually, at the European Parliament, we are debating the future direction of radioprotection. I am involved in this unprecedented opportunity to review the norms in order to improve them. I tell you frankly, from a cynical point of view, we keep the present norms in order to avoid liability for damages in case of a nuclear accident. This is the only way to avoid a complete economic collapse following a major nuclear catastrophe. Such an attitude illustrates that an accident is expected, something which is unacceptable for everyone.
This analysis of the IRSN contradicts the official studies of the [French] Institut national de veille sanitaire (Institute for Health Surveillance) (INVS), which show that the incidence of thyroid cancers in Corsica is among the highest in France, and Corsica was the region most affected by radioactive fallout from Chernobyl.
The Chernobyl syndrome seems to touch successive governments, entangled in a nuclear dependence which they do not know how to escape. With this study, the Left [the present Socialist Party government] finally had an opportunity to recognize the grave lies of the 5th Republic, so I am extremely disappointed that this was not done.
For many years the victims of Chernobyl have waited for official recognition of the ailments that affect them. I can only be outraged by the irresponsibility that arose from the preference to protect the interests of the nuclear industry. In the end, the initial lie requires its repetition in order to avoid damage to the credibility of the state on questions of nuclear safety. The only way to get out of such a vicious circle is to get out of nuclear energy.
The article above is an English translation of an essay
by Michèle Rivasi, member of the European Parliament

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