Fukushima Worker’s Thyroid Cancer Linked To Disaster

imageedit_3_6144046269A TEPCO worker who was involved in the disaster response at Fukushima Daiichi has developed thyroid cancer. The Japanese labor ministry has concluded his work at the plant caused his cancer.

The un-named worker was a 20 year TEPCO employee. His lifetime radiation exposure was 149.6 millisieverts. The portion of that total that was accumulated during the 2011 disaster was 139.12 millisieverts. Asahi Shimbun reports slightly higher exposure numbers. 40 millisieverts of this exposure was internal exposure. This would be by inhalation or ingestion. His exact work during the disaster was described as checking water and pressure gauges and fueling water pumps. These tasks would have potentially taken place in the reactor building and outside respectively. The worker’s normal post as a reactor operator for units 3 and 4 at Fukushima Daiichi would be one of the lower exposure roles at the plant during normal operations.

His cancer was diagnosed in 2014, it only became publicly reported once the labor ministry ruled. We therefore have no formal record of how many disaster workers from Daiichi have developed cancer but have not had that outcome become public record. Workers at the plant were given potassium iodide pills around the same time they were ordered to wear respirators when it became clear unit 1 had begun to melt down around 5am on March 12th. This protective action was not sufficient to prevent the worker’s thyroid cancer.

This worker is the third to have their work in the disaster response linked to a subsequent cancer by the labor ministry.

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