Japan has announced that a worker at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant died after suffering radiation exposure.The man, who died from lung cancer, was first diagnosed in 2016. Japan's government had previously agreed that radiation caused illness in four workers but this is the first acknowledged death.
The ministry has ruled that the man's family should be paid compensation, after hearing testimonies from radiologists and other experts,
The employee who died, a man in his 50s, had worked at atomic power stations since 1980 and was in charge of measuring radiation at the Fukushima No 1 plant shortly after its meltdown. He worked there at least twice after the meltdown, and had worn a face mask and protective suit, Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare said.
For almost six minutes, the worst to ever earthquake hit Japan with a 9.0 magnitude. Within 50 minutes of the initial earthquake, the first waves up to 14 meters high flowed over the nuclear plant's 10-meter high sea wall. The Fukushima plant's emergency power generators, located in the basement, were soon flooded and failed, shutting down vital cooling systems and causing reactor fuel rods to meltdown in three of the six reactors, leaking radiation into the surrounding area and the sea. Sixteen hours after meltdown began, the fuel rods in one reactor had almost completely melted. It would 88 days until the Japanese government admitted that a meltdown had taken place.
At the time of the nuclear disaster, there were no immediate deaths or cases of radiation sickness, but over 100,000 people were evacuated from their homes to ensure this. More than 40 evacuated patients from the Futaba Hospital later died. Around 18,500 people died or disappeared in the quake and tsunami, and more than 160,000 were forced from their homes.
Three former Tepco executives were charged with professional negligence, resulting in death and injury, linked to the hospital evacuation. Though no-one died directly in the nuclear meltdown, Tokyo Electric Power Company, the plant operator, and state officials have been facing multiple compensation claims since 2012. The amount of compensation to be paid by TEPCO is expected to reach 7 trillion yen ( 61,889,940,000.00 US dollars).
The tsunami water caused the meltdown, but water is also the only way to stop it. Since the disaster, Tokyo Electric Power Company has been pumping hundreds of tons of water to cool Fukushima's reactors and stop the outflow of radiation. The cleanup also includes collecting radioactive contaminated earth from the surrounding area, which now sits in thousands of industrial-sized bags. Costs to Japanese taxpayers are likely to exceed 12 trillion yen ($100 billion US). In December 2016 the government estimated decontamination, compensation, decommissioning, and radioactive waste storage costs at 21.5 trillion yen ($187 billion US).
The true scale of the environmental impact is still unknown as radioactive material has been detected as far as 200 miles from the plant. The world may still be feeling the effects of this disaster for generations to come. Tokyo Electric Power Company estimates that cleanup operations at the Fukushima power plant could take up to 40 years.
The Fukushima triple nuclear meltdown meltdown, was the world's worst nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl nuclear disaster that occurred three decades ago, in April 1986.