A worker at Fukushima Daiichi has died. He is reported to have worked at the plant for a week for one of TEPCO’s first tier subcontractors. The worker began at Fukushima in early August, worked for seven days before becoming extremely ill. He died on August 16th. The worker was 40 years old and was involved in radiation exposure admin and doorway admin. No further details were given about the nature of his work at the plant. The diagnosis of acute leukemia is a PR-speak way of saying radiation poisoning.
TEPCO claims the worker had zero internal exposure and had no health problem before he began working there. His radiation exposure according to TEPCO was .5 mSv. We do know that workers at the plant have been purposely under reporting their exposure through methods like leaving their dosimeter somewhere with lower radiation while they go work. TEPCO has been plagued with worker safety failures. Many workers early on didn’t have dosimeters. A number of workers received internal radiation exposures due to faulty equipment or inadequate training. Many workers have been treated for heat stroke over the summer.
There is also the instance of another worker death at the plant where the worker came down with heat stroke. TEPCO claimed his death was a heart attack totally unrelated to his heat stroke. At that time there were no heat mitigation strategies going on at the plant. Since that death rest areas, water sources and cooling packs were added but workers have told the public the measures still fail due to logistics while they are working.
The worker in this new incident worked at the plant for 7 days. He was hospitalized for 7 days according to the Mainichi article (Eng. trans at end of page). He died on August 16th. By backdating these events his work at the plant took place during the first week of August, when they were doing gamma camera survey work. This was when the 10 Svh radiation pocket was found in a pipe near the vent stack. TEPCO also mentioned finding a second 10 Svh pocket of radiation in the vent stack itself. The worker pictured in this story caused some concern as he is depicted standing very close to these two 10 Svh sources of radiation. That worker likely received a very high dose while standing there. This survey work included mitigation of various areas to remove debris and to mark areas of high radiation. This would likely be included radiation exposure admin at the plant.
Some reference exposure levels:
100 mSv = lowest one year dose clearly linked to increased cancer risk
400 mSv = causes symptoms of radiation poisoning if received in a short time
2000mSv = (2 Sv) Severe radiation poisoning, in some cases fatal
4000mSv = (4 Sv) usually fatal
8000mSv = (8 Sv) fatal dose even with treatment
10,000mSv = (10 Sv) radiation per hour found in bottom of vent stack between two reactors.
50,000mSv = (50 Sv) Ten minutes next to the Chernobyl reactor core after the explosion and meltdown
We do not know the identity of the worker that died or if he is the person pictured. We do know that the worker that died was working the week TEPCO was doing survey work to find hot spots. This worker was involved in “radiation exposure admin”, this somewhat vague category of work could involve the survey work that was being done. If this worker was involved in those efforts he could have been exposed to one of the known very high radiation sources or to another radiation concentration pocket that wasn’t mapped. At this point it is speculation and we are looking for more data.
What is known is that a worker is dead under very suspicious circumstances. We know that radiation survey work was going on the week he was there. TEPCO is now using the same avoidance tactics they previously used to try to explain away the worker who died of heat stroke earlier this summer. More information needs to be released about the circumstances of this workers death.
Below is the English translation of the Mainichi article and also one from Jiji, many thanks to Ob_Li for providing the translation:
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