Dozens of Japan workers exposed to radiation
Japanese authorities have told the UN atomic agency that 28 nuclear workers have received high radiation doses as they battle to stabilise the stricken Fukushima power plant.
Of the 300 people at the site, which was hit by an earthquake and tsunami a month ago, 28 have accumulated doses of more than 100 millisieverts (mSv) of radiation, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said, citing data from Japanese authorities.
But no worker has received a dose above Japan’s guidance value of 250 mSv “for restricting the exposure of emergency workers”, the IAEA said.
The average dose for a nuclear plant worker is 50 millisieverts over five years.
Last month, two workers from the Fukushima site were taken to hospital after their feet were exposed to 170-180 millisieverts when they stepped into contaminated water. They have since recovered.
Meanwhile, Japan’s government has ordered the embattled operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant to offer compensation payouts to tens of thousands of people made homeless by the ongoing crisis.
Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) said it would give an initial one million yen ($11,300) to each family living around the radiation-leaking Fukushima power station.
Tens of thousands who were ordered to evacuate an initial 20-kilometre zone around the plant will be eligible for the money, as are many more from a further 10-kilometre band who were advised to stay indoors.
The payment will also cover people in communities further afield who have this week been told to prepare for evacuation because of worries over the effects of long-term exposure to radiation from the overheating reactors.
The company estimates payouts to the approximately 50,000 households covered by the plan will cost around 50 billion yen. The firm would begin making the payments this month.
The announcement came after increasingly stern warnings from Tokyo, itself under fire for a sometimes haphazard approach to the disaster.
Japan’s trade minister Banri Kaieda told a news conference the government had intervened to order TEPCO to make the payments.
“The government has decided to tell Tokyo Electric to swiftly pay provisional compensation that these people need as money to live on for now,” he said.
It is believed TEPCO could be liable for a compensation bill of $24 billion by the end of the year.