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Worker sues TEPCO (2)

May 8, 2014


Fukushima worker sues TEPCO for exposure to radiation




A worker at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant who was exposed to high levels of radiation in the early days of the disaster is seeking compensation from plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. and other parties.

It is the first such lawsuit by a Fukushima worker, according to the man’s lawyers. Their client’s identity was withheld.

“I wish (the utility) had informed us of possible risks in advance,” the 48-year-old man said at a news conference in Tokyo on May 7. “I want (TEPCO) to create safer conditions for workers because the decommissioning of the reactors will not finish anytime soon.”

Arguing that he was unnecessarily exposed to high levels of radiation due to slipshod instructions from TEPCO, the man is seeking 11 million yen ($107,000) in compensation. The lawsuit was filed at the Iwaki branch of the Fukushima District Court.

Just 13 days after the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, the man was among the six workers from TEPCO’s original contractor and its subcontractor who entered the basement of the No. 3 reactor turbine building, which had been flooded by tsunami, to install cables.

Three of the workers waded through contaminated water up to their ankles and were exposed to up to 180 millisieverts of radiation. They were later hospitalized.

According to the man’s complaint and other documents, he did not enter the radioactive water, but worked near a puddle of contaminated water for 90 minutes. He estimated that he received a radiation dose of at least 20 millisieverts at that time.

The man argued that TEPCO should have been aware of the risks of working in the basement because it had previously discovered highly contaminated water around the No. 1 reactor on March 18. The man insists that the utility, however, told the six workers that the basement was safe to work in.

“That is a breach of responsibility to ensure safety,” the man said. “(The utility) put us in a position of being exposed to high doses of radiation unnecessarily.”

So far, the man has suffered no health issues.

“After carefully examining the contents of the demand and his arguments, we will sincerely respond to the claim,” TEPCO said in a statement issued the same day.

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