The Atomic Energy Council (AEC) yesterday pledged to cover all medical expenses incurred during the hospitalization of You Kato, as associate professor at Tokyo Metropolitan University’s Division of Radiological Science, who was in a car accident on Sunday after the conclusion of a radioactivity inspection of Lanyu (蘭嶼), also known as Orchid Island.
“According to the hospital where professor Kato is being treated, the surgery went smoothly and he is making a good recovery and could be discharged within a week. Medical expenses are estimated to be more than NT$100,000,” Fuel Cycle and Materials Administration deputy director Shao Yao-tsu (邵耀祖) said yesterday.
Kato and another Japanese academic, J.F. Oberlin University professor Katsumi Nakao, visited Taiwan at the invitation of the council to join five Taiwanese nuclear specialists and personnel from the council-affiliated Radiation Monitoring Center to conduct a two-day survey of the island’s radiation levels on Saturday and Sunday.
Kato and Nakao made the trip following a three-day radioactive survey they carried out on the island, which is home to the nation’s only nuclear waste storage facility, at the invitation of environmentalists from Taitung County in early September, after the island was severely battered by Typhoon Tembin.
The academics were scheduled to first carry out an on-the-spot survey on Saturday, before presenting their findings at Langdao Elementary School on Sunday to Lanyu residents who have become increasingly unhappy about possible radioactive pollution on the island.
Shao said after the academics explained their findings to Lanyu residents as planned on Sunday morning, they headed to the Lanyu Airport for a flight to Taitung, where they were due to attend a press conference.
“Unfortunately, professor Kato got into an accident on his way to the airport, but was rushed to the Mackay Memorial Hospital’s Taitung Branch for emergency treatment,” Shao said.
In response to criticism of the council for being indifferent to Kato’s injuries, Shao said the council immediately requested Taiwan Power Co Taitung division chief Chiu Ching-hui (邱慶輝) to visit Kato at the hospital upon learning about the crash.
“The council also offered NT$6,000 in consolation money to professor Kato and pledged to cover all medical expenses,” Shao said.
Turning to the radioactivity inspection, Shao said a high-precision high purity germanium detector was employed during the two-day survey of the island and that radiation levels on the island were found to be normal.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) yesterday lauded the council’s move to solicit funds for Kato’s medical bills, adding he wished Kato a speedy recovery.