Leukemia Suffering Fukushima Worker Tells His Story

“I decided to go to Fukushima hoping that I could make some contribution to the recovery of the disaster-stricken communities, and I have no regret over my decision,” 

The worker who is the first to win compensation for cancer related to his work at Fukushima Daiichi has granted an interview to Asahi Shimbun. The married father of three worked as a welder at the plant between 2012 and 2013. He worked between units 3 and 4, an area known to be of high radiation and risk.

He became critically ill due to an infection during cancer treatment and is now in remission though his cancer could return.

“He said he desperately fought to stay alive because he was worried about his family’s financial situation if it was deprived of its breadwinner.”

The laws that govern nuclear workers workers compensation in Japan allow anyone with a dose above 5 mSv in a year to potentially receive compensation for cancers.

Based on the spirit of workers’ compensation insurance, we gave consideration to his case from a standpoint that he should not miss compensation (he might be eligible for),” a ministry official said.”

Over the years of the disaster a number of situations where workers exposure records were not properly documented are known. Early in the disaster some workers did not have their own dosimeter to record their dose due to the chaos and supply shortages at Fukushima Daiichi. Work teams were sent out sharing one dosimeter so individual exposures were not recorded. Workers have also reported that some would set down their dosimeter to dash into an area of high radiation to complete important work. This would allow them to not exceed their exposure limit. At the time there was critical work that needed to be done at the plant and a shortage of skilled workers familiar with the facility. Even years later subcontractors were caught making construction workers put fabricated lead shields over their dosimeters to extend the time they could work at the plant. With the long history of worker abuse in the Japanese nuclear industry and contracted workers, these problems were not a surprise. The press has quoted some people who insist this cancer case can not be related to Fukushima Daiichi due to the worker’s exposure being relatively low.

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