Tepco Says Fukushima Worker’s Radiation Nears Limit Allowed

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Tokyo Electric Power Co. said at least one worker at its damaged Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power has been exposed to radiation levels near the maximum level allowed by the government.

The man, hospitalized for radiation burns last month, was exposed to 240.8 millisieverts of radiation, company spokesman Takashi Kurita said at a press conference in Tokyo today. The cumulative maximum level for nuclear workers, set by the government, is 250 millisieverts.

Tokyo Electric is struggling to contain the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986. Four reactors have been damaged by hydrogen blasts after the 9-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami March 11 knocked out backup power and cooling systems, and radiation leaks have forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.

An adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said he will resign in protest against the government’s handling of the nuclear crisis, Kyodo News reported. Toshiso Kosako told the prime minister’s office yesterday that he will step down, the news agency said, citing the adviser.

Kosako did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment. A spokesman at the prime minister’s office was not available for comment when contacted by telephone.

Tokyo Electric said it will resume the transfer of radioactive water from trenches near the No. 2 reactor today, as it halted the operation yesterday to check for leaks at the waste treatment building.

Government Fund

The government is considering setting up a fund to help pay for damages caused by the crippled plant, the Yomiuri newspaper said, citing an interview with Trade Minister Banri Kaieda.

It may ask power utilities that own nuclear plants to sell their assets to help Tokyo Electric pay compensation, the report said. Kaieda wants other utilities to contribute to the fund with restructuring and not by just raising electricity fees, according to the report.

A total of 21 workers were exposed to radiation exceeding 100 millisieverts in the period from March 11 to March 31, Kurita said. On April 23, the company said 30 workers had been exposed to that level. Exposure totaling 100 millisieverts over a year is the lowest at which any increase in cancer is evident, according to the World Nuclear Association inLondon.

Radiation amounted to 226.6 millisieverts for another man who was hospitalized last month, Kurita said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Naoko Fujimura in Tokyo atnfujimura@bloomberg.net; Michio Nakayama in Tokyo at mnakayama4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alexander Kwiatkowski at akwiatkowsk2@bloomberg.net

Categories: FUKUSHIMA

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