16 Mai 2014
May 16, 2014
Panel urges lifelong survey for Fukushima workers
An expert panel is to ask Japan's government to conduct a lifelong survey on people who worked in the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear accident.
A draft report released on Friday by the health ministry panel urges the government to follow 19,000 workers for the rest of their lives to see whether their exposure to radiation causes cancer or other illnesses.
The people worked at the plant after the accident in March 2011, until the government announced in December that year that damaged reactors had stabilized.
The panel says workers whose radiation exposure exceeded a government limit should undergo blood tests as part of detailed checks.
Panel head Toshiteru Okubo says the survey would provide internationally important knowledge on radiation's impact on health and serve as a guideline for residents of Fukushima Prefecture.
Mikiko Watanabe, a member of a nonprofit group supporting nuclear plant workers, says scrapping the damaged plant would put workers at greater risk.
She says the survey would lose significance if it covered only those who worked during the initial phase of the accident.
The panel plans to finalize the report in May.
The ministry says it hopes to start a test survey in the second half of this year.
May 16, 2014 - Updated 10:58 UTC