Nuclear Plant Workers Developed Cancer
Radiation Exposure Than
Of 10 nuclear power plant workers who have developed
cancer and received workers' compensation in the past, nine
had been exposed to less than 100 millisieverts of
radiation, it has been learned.
The revelation comes amid reports that a number of
workers battling the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear
Power Plant were found to have been exposed to more than the
emergency limit of 250 millisieverts, which was raised from
the previous limit of 100 millisieverts in March.
According to Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry
statistics, of the 10 nuclear power plant workers, six had
leukemia, two multiple myeloma and another two lymphatic
malignancy. Only one had been exposed to 129.8 millisieverts
but the remaining nine were less than 100 millisieverts,
including one who had been exposed to about 5 millisieverts.
Nobuyuki Shimahashi, a worker at the Hamaoka Nuclear
Power Plant, where operations were recently suspended by
Chubu Electric Power Co., died of leukemia in 1991 at age
29. His 74-year-old mother Michiko remembers her son
dropping from 80 kilograms to 50 kilograms and his gums
Shimahashi was in charge of maintaining and checking
measuring instruments inside the nuclear power plant as a
subcontract employee. He had 50.63 millisieverts of
radiation exposure over a period of eight years and 10
His radiation exposure monitoring databook, which was
returned to his family six months after his death, showed
that more than 30 exposure figures and other listings had
been corrected in red ink and stamped with personal seals.
Even after he was diagnosed with leukemia, the databook
had a stamp indicating permission for him to engage in a job
subject to possible radiation exposure and a false report on
his participation in nuclear safety education while he was
in reality in hospital.
"The workers at the Fukushima nuclear power plant may be
aware that they are risking their lives while doing their
jobs. However, the state and electric power companies should
also think about their families. If I had heard it was
'dangerous,' I would not have sent Nobuyuki to the nuclear
power plant," Michiko Shimahashi said. "The workers who have
done nothing wrong should not die. The emergency upper limit
should be cut immediately."
Workers' compensation for nuclear power plant workers
rarely receives a mention.
Koshiro Ishimaru, 68, leader of a civic group in the
Futaba district in Fukushima Prefecture, notes that six
workers at the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant
applied for workers' compensation before the nuclear
disaster and four received recognition. Only two of the four
"There are many people who are benefiting from the
nuclear power plant and do not want other members of this
small community to know about compensation," Ishimaru points
When it comes to being entitled to workers' compensation
due to diseases other than cancer, the hurdle is much
Ryusuke Umeda, a 76-year-old former welder in the city of
Fukuoka, worked at the Shimane Nuclear Power Plant run by
Chugoku Electric Power Co. in Matsue and the Tsuruga Nuclear
Power Plant run by Japan Atomic Power Co. in Tsuruga, Fukui
Prefecture, between February and June 1979.
He soon had symptoms such as nose bleeding and later
chronic fatigue before having a heart attack in 2000. He
suspected nuclear radiation, applied for workers'
compensation in 2008 but was rejected.
His radiation exposure stood at 8.6 millisieverts. Umeda
says, "Nuclear power plant workers have been used for the
benefit of plant operators. If left unchecked, there will be
many cases like mine."
The current guidelines for workers' compensation due to
radiation exposure only certify leukemia among various types
of cancer. In these cases compensation is granted only when
an applicant is exposed to more than 5 millisieverts of
radiation a year and develops leukemia more than one year
after being exposed to nuclear radiation. For other types of
cancer, the health ministry's study group decides if
applicants are eligible for workers' compensation.
(Mainichi Japan) July 27, 2011