TOKYO — When meltdowns struck Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the wake of a devastating tsunami in 2011, more than 44,000 workers were deployed to take the facility safely off-line. The job was messy: Millions of gallons of radioactive water had to be stored on site as the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., known as Tepco, faced a clean-up some priced at $100 billion.
And now, for the first time, one of the workers involved in that clean-up has been diagnosed with cancer related to his job, as Japan’s NHK reported.
[For Tepco and Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, toxic water stymies cleanup]
Japan’s ministry of health, labor and welfare announced Tuesday that a recovery worker — a man unnamed in news reports — has been diagnosed with leukemia. The ministry confirmed the man’s cancer was related to his work at Fukushima after he filed a worker’s compensation claim.
Asahi Shimbun, a major Japanese daily newspaper, reported the man, from Kitakyushu, is now 41. He worked at the Daiichi plant near the No.3 and No.4 reactors from 2012 to 2013. He was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia — a cancer of the blood and bone marrow, according to the Mayo Clinic — in January 2014. The word “acute” indicates “the disease’s rapid progression,” according to Mayo. The man quit after working at Fukushima Daiichi and developed leukemia, NHK reported.
The Fukushima worker diagnosed with cancer experienced accumulation of exposed doses of 16 mSv, according to Asahi Shimbun.
Earlier this month, radiation associated with the Fukushima meltdowns was linked to thyroid cancer in children living near the area.
“This is more than expected and emerging faster than expected,” lead author Toshihide Tsuda told the Associated Press. “This is 20 times to 50 times what would be normally expected.”
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