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Posts Tagged ‘worker compensation’

First Cancer Case Linked to Fukushima Triple Meltdown

Posted by feww on October 20, 2015

Over 21,000 Fukushima NPP workers exposed to illegal radiation levels: Report

A worker involved in clean-up operations at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant may have developed cancer as a result, Japanese health authorities have revealed.

The plant, severely damaged by a mega earthquake and subsequent tsunami on 11 March 2011, underwent a triple meltdown, releasing massive quantities of radiation to the environment.

The victim, a man in his late 30s, reportedly worked at the crippled plant for more than a year and is now suffering from leukemia.

He was exposed to a total of 19.8 millisieverts (mSv) of radiation, including 15.7 millisieverts at the Fukushima plant, according to NHK.

“While the causal link between his exposure to radiation and his illness is unclear, we certified him from the standpoint of worker compensation,” a health ministry official was reported as saying.

Several other workers at the planet, who have also developed cancer are yet to be assessed by the health authorities.

Former plant manager Masao Yoshida died of esophageal cancer two years ago; however, the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has denied liability.

Workers who develop cancer more than a year after they have been exposed to annual radiation of 5 milliseverts are entitled to compensation.

More than 45,000 people have worked on the clean up at the crippled Fukushima plant, and about half of them have been exposed to annual radiation levels of [at least] 5 millisieverts, NHK quoted officials as saying.

Only 13 nuclear workers have ever been granted compensation for work-related cancer in plants other than Fukushima.

The highest dose of radiation received so far by a worker responding to the Fukushima emergency was 670 mSv, while estimated maximum dose to evacuees who lived closest to the Fukushima plant was 70 mSv.

What is a lethal dose of radiation from a single Exposure?

Studies of the 1945 atomic bombing at Hiroshima and Nagasaki show that 100 percent of victims whose bodies were exposed to 600,000 millirems (6,000 mSv) died from radiation. About 50 percent of victims who received 450,000 millirems (4,500 mSv) of radiation also died.

(Note: Rem is a unit of ionizing radiation equal to the amount that produces the same damage to humans as one roentgen of high-voltage x-rays. Source: MIT)

1 rem = 10 mSv
1 Sv = 100 rem
1mSv = 0.1 rem
1mSv = 100 millirems (mrem)

Background Radiation in millirems per year (mrem/yr)

  • Average background radiation (US): 300 (3 mS/yr)
  • Higher altitudes (e.g, Denver): 400 (4 mS/yr)

“Safe Levels” of Radiation (U.S.) – millirems per year

Limits above natural background radiation levels (average 300 millirems per year, or 3 mSv/yr) and medical radiation:

  • Occupation Limit: Maximum of 5,000 (the limit for a worker using radiation)
  • Average Natural Background: 300

[Note: Lifetime cumulative exposure should be limited to a person’s age multiplied by 1,000 millirems, e.g., a 70-year-old person, 70,000 millirems.]


  • Max single dose for an adult: 3,000
  • Annual total dose: 5,000

Under 18

  • Max single dose for a person aged under 18 years: 300 millirems (whole body equivalent)
  • Annual total exposure: 500

Fetal Exposure

  • Maximum limit for fetal exposure during gestation period: 50 millirems per month above background levels


  • Single Chest X-ray (the whole body equivalent): 2 millirem

Air Travel

  • Coast-to-coast US round trip flight: 12 millirems

Space Travel

  • 6 months stay on the International Space Station: 8,000 millirems
  • 260-day trip to Mars: 36,000 millirems
  • Maximum allowed radiation exposure for astronauts over their career: 100,000 millirems (1 Sv)


1. Radiation dose of about 2,000 millisieverts (200,000 millirems) cause serious illness.

2. The average annual radiation dose per person in the U.S. is currently 620 millirem (6.2 mSv), according to EPA. “Half of our average dose comes from natural background sources: cosmic radiation from space, naturally occurring radioactive minerals in the ground and in your body, and from the radioactive gases radon and thoron, which are created when other naturally occurring elements undergo radioactive decay. Another 48 percent of our dose comes from medical diagnostics and treatments.”

Half-life of some radioactive elements

[NOTE: Half-life is the time taken for a radioactive substance to decay by half.]

  • Cesium-134 ~ 2 years
  • Cesium-137 ~ 30 years
  • Iodine-131 ~ 8 days
  • Plutonium-239 ~ 24,200 years
  • Ruthenium-103 ~ 39 days [Ruthenium is a fission product of uranium-235.]
  • Ruthenium-106 ~ 374 days
  • Strontium-90 ~ 28.85 years [Strontium-90 is a product of nuclear fission and is found in large amounts in spent nuclear fuel and in radioactive waste from nuclear reactors.]
  • Uranium-234 ~ 246,000 years
  • Uranium-235 ~ 703.8 million years
  • Uranium-238 ~ 4.468 billion years

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