Two people developed throat cancer following their employment at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, and one of them (in his 40s) passed away due to the illness. It was the first case of the condition that is linked to workers at the facility.
The undisclosed men, aged in the range of 60s and 40s, removed debris and assessed radiation levels at the facility to help clear the area surrounding it of radioactivity. In 2011, the massive earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 15,000 people and forced the displacement of more than 160,000 people also led to nuclear meltdowns, making areas of the Fukushima prefecture inaccessible.
Japanese news site NHK revealed that an employee in his 40s has passed away due to cancer he contracted in 2019. He was a radiologist employed by a company that was a partner of TEPCO, the company that is the owner of Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. But the man in his 60s was an employee of TEPCO.
The report said that he assisted in installing covers over damaged reactors at the plant between October 2012 through December 2013. He wasn’t present at Fukushima right after the devastating tsunami and earthquake that destroyed the facility in March of 2011, in the time when radiation levels were at their highest.
The ministry stated that the man worked in several other nuclear facilities before arriving at the Fukushima plant. Medical experts were unable to decide if his exposure to Fukushima was the sole source of his leukemia. An official of the ministry told reporters under the condition of anonymity due to the subject’s sensitivity. However, his exposure total of 19.8 millisieverts mainly was due to his involvement at Fukushima, The official stated.
According to the Ministry, thirteen other employees in Japan’s nuclear industry were approved for government-funded compensation for illnesses such as cancer and others caused by exposure to radiation in the workplace since the 1970s. Since the Fukushima disaster, ten compensation cases have been filed, with seven of them being rejected and three being re-examined.
A claimant is eligible for compensation for diseases related to radiation exposure that have an annual dose of more than five millisieverts. The disease takes longer than one year after the first exposure to radiation.
Since the catastrophe, more than 45,000 workers have been employed in the Fukushima plant, half of them exposed to levels that exceed five millisieverts according to Tokyo Electric Power Co. that runs the plant.
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