Time World Notes
August 4, 1989


A Dose of Nuclear Fallout

When the nuclear-power plant at Chernobyl blew, lethal contamination forced the evacuation of 100,000 citizens. But 600 residents told Izvestiya last week that they had not been moved until a week after the accident, after even the livestock had been led to safety. Now, three years later, the supreme soviet of the Byelorussian Republic has suggested that an additional 106,000 people be relocated. If approved by Moscow, this evacuation would confirm suspicions that Soviet officials downplayed the severity of the mishap and grossly underestimated-the risk it posed to human life.

Residents of the accident zone have grown increasingly concerned about the health of their children, who are developing respiratory infections and vision problems. They say their children have been eating contaminated food from local stores and contend that government limits for radiation are too high. In an article titled "Mysterious Medicine: People with Chernobyl Experience Have No Faith in Doctors' Diagnoses," Moscow News reported that Soviet doctors refuse to attribute any health problem in the region to radiation. Dependent on Moscow for funding, local officials hope some support will come from Premier Nikolai Ryzhkov, who has reportedly "listened attentively" to their complaints.