Worker at wrecked Fukushima plant dies from head injury — The Japan Times

” A worker at the wrecked Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant died Saturday after a hatch at the back of a truck being used in cleanup work closed on his head, operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.

The accident occurred at around 6:30 a.m., when the man, 52, was cleaning the truck. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The man worked for a subcontractor of general contractor Kajima Corp., Tepco said.

A man who was working with the victim told plant officials that he found him slumped at the back of a 7.9-meter-long tank truck used to transport underground water and dirt dug from a frozen wall construction site to a dump site, Tepco said.

The co-worker told utility officials that minutes before the incident, the victim indicated to him that he had finished cleaning and inspecting the truck’s tank and wanted him to close the hatch, Tepco spokesman Shinichi Nakakuki said.

The co-worker said he then closed the hatch using a lever behind the driver’s compartment. Officials said that he most likely could not see his partner at the back of the truck from that position.

The workers’ full-face masks and helmets make it difficult to communicate.

The Fukushima Prefectural Police were investigating the cause of the accident.

Another worker died in March 2014 at the No. 1 plant, the site of the 2011 triple-meltdown accident, after he was buried under mud during work to reinforce a waste storage facility.

And in January this year, a third fatality occurred when a worker accidentally fell from the top of a 10-meter-high tank used to store rainwater. ”


Worker dies at disabled Fukushima nuclear power plant — Vice News

” A 30 year-old man died this weekend as he worked on decommissioning Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, which was devastated in the 2011 Tohoku tsunami, in which 20,000 died or were reported missing.

It is not yet known whether the man’s death was due to radiation exposure, and an autopsy is pending.

The Fukushima Daiichi plant suffered a series of meltdowns in 2011 during a massive earthquake and tsunami off the coast of Japan. The quake knocked out the plant’s cooling systems, causing meltdowns in the plant’s reactors and a radioactive leak that triggered the evacuation of thousands of people in the area.

In a statement released Monday, the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), said that the man had been taken to the emergency room after complaining that he wasn’t feeling well. “His death was confirmed early in the afternoon,” Tepco said.

Isabelle Dublineau, the head of the experimental radiotoxicology laboratory for France’s Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN), said that, “there are many thresholds of radiation exposure.” Speaking to VICE News Tuesday, Dublineau said it was “too early” to comment on the death.

This is the third recorded death at the stricken Fukushima plant since the start of the decommissioning work. In March 2014, a laborer at the plant was killed after being buried under gravel while digging, and in January 2015, a worker died after falling inside a water storage tank.

While the latest death has already been branded suspicious in the media, Tepco has so far denied that any of the deaths are related to radiation exposure.

On some days, radioactive emissions at the Fukushima plant can be as high as 2.16 millisieverts [mSv] — more than one-tenth of the allowed annual exposure for nuclear energy workers. As a result, workers are limited to three-hour shifts, and labor in grueling conditions, particularly in the summer, when the temperature can reach 113 degrees. The heat is made worse by the heavy protective gear worn by workers to protect themselves from radiation exposure — including suits, boots, gloves and masks.

The worker who died over the weekend was working up to three hours a day at the plant, on the construction of the “ice wall” — an underground frozen wall designed to box in the melted reactors and contain the seeping radioactive water to prevent further groundwater pollution. Today, clean groundwater from around the plant flows through the melted reactor and mixes with the contaminated water in the reactors. To prevent ocean pollution, Tepco has to store the contaminated water in reservoirs and treat it, before pumping it back out.

Tepco has warned that decommissioning the Fukushima nuclear plant could take up to 40 years. In early July, the Japanese government notified the evacuated residents of Naraha — a town of 7,400 that lies 20 miles from the nuclear plant — that they would be able return to their homes in September. Naraha has an estimated annual radiation dose of 20 millisieverts — the maximum annual dose allowed for nuclear energy workers in France.

Following the 2011 nuclear disaster, Japan shut down all of its 50 working reactors, which were supplying close to a third of the country’s electricity. Forced to turn to other sources of energy, Japan has since become the second largest importer of coal behind China.

Tepco has been heavily criticized for its handling of the Fukushima catastrophe, and three former Tepco executives currently face criminal charges and are due to stand trial soon for “negligence.”

In February, the nuclear operator revealed that contaminated water had been leaking into the Pacific ocean. According to French daily Le Monde, Tepco had known about the leak for almost a year before it made the information public.

Japan currently has 48 off-line reactors — a few of which have recently been deemed operable. Pending decisions by local authorities, these reactions could be operational as early as the end of 2015. ”


Worker dies at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant — The Guardian

” A worker at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has died after falling into an empty water storage tank, in the latest of a series of accidents at the site of the worst nuclear disaster for a quarter of a century.

The death was the second at Fukushima Daiichi in less than a year, but the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), insisted that it was doing everything possible to prevent accidents.

Almost 7,000 workers are involved in decommissioning Fukushima Daiichi, which suffered a triple meltdown after it was struck by a powerful earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

Removing melted fuel and dismantling the ruined facility is expected to take four decades.

The latest death there, of an unnamed man in his 50s, comes days after inspectors visited the plant and ordered Tepco to address the rising number of accidents. Last March, a worker died after being buried by gravel while digging a ditch.

In a separate incident on Tuesday, a worker in his 40s died in hospital after equipment fell on him at a facility storing radioactive waste at the nearby Fukushima Daini plant, Kyodo News said. The plant, which escaped serious damage from the tsunami, is being used as a hub for companies involved in decommissioning.

The number of injuries, excluding cases of heatstroke, has almost doubled in the past two years. In fiscal 2013 Tepco recorded 23 injuries, while the number between April and November last year had already reached 40.

The firm attributed the rise to an increase in the average number of workers at the site during weekdays, from 3,000 early last year to almost 7,000 today.

“We are taking all sorts of measures to prevent accidents,” a Tepco spokeswoman said. They include training sessions for Tepco employees and workers hired by the firm’s many contractors on how to spot potentially dangerous situations at the plant, which now resembles a huge construction site.

The Fukushima Daiichi worker died after falling into a 10-metre-tall storage tank he was inspecting on Monday. He was taken to hospital but died early on Tuesday.

“We are deeply sorry for the death of the worker and express our deepest condolences to the family. We promise to implement measures to ensure that such tragedy does not occur again,” Akira Ono, the manager of Fukushima Daiichi, said in a statement.

The man’s employer, the construction firm Hazama Ando, had no immediate comment.

In response to concerns that lack of proper rest was making Fukushima Daiichi workers more susceptible to lapses in concentration, Tepco will open a new facility in March where up to 1,200 workers at a time can rest and have meals.

Several firms recently created a new company that will provide nutritious meals for about 3,000 workers a day from April.

Most Fukushima Daiichi workers belong to a vast network of contractors in the construction industry that are helping Tepco decommission the facility.

Amid accusations that some unscrupulous firms were withholding mandatory hazard allowances from their employees, four former and current workers last September took Tepco and several of its partner firms to court seeking $600,000 in unpaid wages.

“It’s not just the number of accidents that has been on the rise. It’s the serious cases, including deaths and serious injuries that have risen, so we asked Tokyo Electric to improve the situation,” Katsuyoshi Ito, a local labour standards inspector told Reuters. ”