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Fukushima nuclear plant worker died from radiation exposure on the job: ministry

The Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant is seen in this Feb. 15, 2018 file photo. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- The death from lung cancer of a male worker at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) in the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima has been confirmed as work-related, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare announced on Sept. 4.

The announcement marks the government's first recognition of a fatality linked to radiation exposure at the facility since a triple core meltdown occurred there in March 2011.

The ministry ruled in favor of granting workman's compensation on Aug. 31. According to the ministry, the man had worked mainly at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and other atomic power stations nationwide over a period of about 28 years and three months between June 1980 and September 2015. He was exposed to a total radiation dose of approximately 195 millisieverts.

After the March 2011 disaster triggered by the massive Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, the worker, who was in his 50s, was exposed to roughly 34 millisieverts of radiation by December 2011. In September 2015, his exposure reached around 74 millisieverts. He was in charge of measuring radiation on the premises of the Fukushima No. 1 plant, and he is said to have worn a full-face mask and protective suit while working, according to the ministry.

The man was diagnosed with lung cancer in February 2016. The timing of his death was withheld in accordance with his bereaved family's wishes, ministry officials explained.

For the death by lung cancer of a worker at a nuclear power plant to be recognized as work-related under current guidelines, the individual must be exposed to 100 millisieverts or more of radiation and the development of the disease must happen five years or more after the exposure.

The ministry made the latest recognition based on opinions of a panel of experts specializing in radiology and other disciplines.

A public relations official of TEPCO Holdings Inc. commented, "We would like to continue to secure the safety of power plants and improve the work environment."

(Japanese original by Shunsuke Kamiashi, City News Department)

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