Original story By YUKA HAYASHI TOKYO
A worker hired to help bring the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant under control died suddenly Thursday—the third fatality reported among workers at the stricken plant since the March accident.
Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said it believed the death, like the previous two, had nothing to do with exposure to radiation in the plant. It also said the death did not result from overwork, though the company didn’t disclose the cause. Tepco said a male worker in his 50s became ill during a meeting Wednesday morning, before his shift started. He was taken to a hospital immediately, and died the next morning. “We can’t disclose what was cited as the cause on his death certificate because it would amount to violation of privacy,” a Tepco spokesman said.
Early on following the accident, set off by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, Tepco was criticized for insufficient attention to worker conditions, subjecting dozens of workers to dangerous levels of radiation. In March, six workers were exposed to over 250 millisieverts of radiation—the ceiling set for emergency workers at the plant—including two who sustained suspected radiation burns to their legs after wading through contaminated water without wearing boots. Safety records have improved significantly in recent months: In July, only six workers received doses of between 20 and 50 millisieverts, compared with 1,264 who were exposed to at least 20 millisieverts in March.