Fri, Aug 24, 2012 - Page 6 News List

Fifth worker dies since tsunami hit Fukushima plant

AFP, TOKYO

A worker at Japan’s crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant has died of a heart attack, the operator said yesterday, the fifth death at the power station since it was hit by a tsunami in March last year.

Tokyo Electric Power Co said the man, who was in his 50s, suffered a cardiac arrest on Wednesday while working on the installation of a tank to store contaminated water.

He was confirmed dead by hospital doctors, company spokesman Jun Oshima said, adding it was not believed radiation from the broken reactors had played a part.

“As far as we know, he is the fifth person to have died after falling sick during work at the plant since the accident,” Oshima said.

“It doesn’t seem that there was a causal link between his death and radiation because he died of a heart attack,” he said.

The cumulative radiation dose the worker received was measured at 25.24 millisieverts, he said.

Under Japanese regulations, nuclear plant workers can be exposed to a maximum of 50 millisieverts annually and 100 millisieverts total in five years. Asked whether the fatality rate at Fukushima Dai-ichi was higher than at other nuclear plants, Oshima said direct comparisons were difficult to make, citing the large number of employees and the different nature of the work.

About 3,000 workers are engaged in decommissioning the crippled plant. Much of the work is physically demanding construction work, in contrast to the less exacting operation and inspection required at functioning nuclear plants, the spokesman said.

The quake-sparked tsunami last year knocked out cooling systems at the nuclear power plant, causing three reactors to go into meltdown in the world’s worst atomic disaster for 25 years.

Nobody is officially recorded as having died as a direct result of the radiation released in the disaster.

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