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Only 35% of Fukushima nuclear plant workers agree to 1st round of health checks via The Asahi Shimbun

Only 35 percent of the targeted workers who tackled the Fukushima nuclear accident are willing to undergo a health check in a survey to determine the effects of their radiation exposure, a research institute reported March 14.

Experts with the Radiation Effects Research Foundation, which is conducting the survey, said at a meeting in Tokyo that the total of 704 who agreed is significantly smaller than the targeted 2,000 subjects, because many could not be reached.

Toshiteru Okubo, foundation chairman, stressed the importance of convincing the workers to participate in the health checks.

“It is not easy to determine their whereabouts,” he said. “But we need to make an effort to convince them to join the survey.”

The foundation, a Japan-U.S. institute based in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, plans to carry out the health survey of 2,000 workers who were mobilized to respond to the accident that unfolded at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on March 11, 2011.

It is expected to get under way by the end of March, ahead of a check of 18,000 more such workers that will be launched in fiscal 2015, which starts in April.

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At the meeting, a health expert said of an inquiry sent to 5,466 workers in Fukushima Prefecture asking whether they intend to get a health checkup, 299 were returned due to an unknown address.

Such papers have been sent from January. The number of replies received stood at 1,071. Of these, 295 workers opted out of the survey.

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