Worker crushed to death at Fukushima nuclear plant

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The death follows multiple radioactive water leaks at the crippled plant in the last year.

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Copyright 2014 Reuters
Copyright 2014 Reuters

"When he was checking underneath the foundation, a mass of concrete collapsed along with the earth around it and fell on him." TEPCO spokesperson

The plant said that a man in his 50's working for a subcontractor at the plant died at a nearby hospital on March 28 after he was crushed. It is unclear if the plant or outside authorities were planning to investigate the death.

Fukushima plant operator TEPCO said on Feb. 20 that about 100 metric tons of contaminated water had spilled from a holding tank into the ground, but that incoming water had been cut off and the leakage had stopped. TEPCO said it does not believe the contaminated water reached the Pacific.

280,000 tons of radioactive water are stored at the site in steel tanks. TEPCO stores about 400 tons of contaminated water daily. About 300 tons of contaminated groundwater seeps daily into the Pacific Ocean via leaks at the plant. Copyright 2014 Reuters

280,000 tons of radioactive water are stored at the site in steel tanks. TEPCO stores about 400 tons of contaminated water daily. About 300 tons of contaminated groundwater seeps daily into the Pacific Ocean via leaks at the plant.

TEPCO on Jan. 6 said it would begin blocking and cleaning damaged underground tunnels believed to be leaking tainted water from reactors into local groundwater aquifers. In Oct. and Dec. 2013, TEPCO said it found the highest levels of radiation in nearby seawater since the initial disaster in 2011.

"Japan has achieved good progress in improving its strategy and in allocating necessary resources… the situation remains very complex… there are still very challenging issues that must be solved." Juan Carlos Lentijo, IAEA inspection team leader

In a preliminary report on Dec. 4, 2013, inspectors said that radioactive water management is much better than before, with fewer leaks. Also, the team said the removal of fuel rods from Reactor 4 is progressing well.

Plant operator TEPCO started removing 1,533 spent nuclear fuel rods from a storage pool at Fukushima's Reactor 4 on Nov. 18, 2013. The rods must be kept submerged in water at all times. An accident would likely cause the release of radiation. Copyright 2014 Reuters

Plant operator TEPCO started removing 1,533 spent nuclear fuel rods from a storage pool at Fukushima's Reactor 4 on Nov. 18, 2013. The rods must be kept submerged in water at all times. An accident would likely cause the release of radiation.

Reuters reported Dec. 6, 2013, that the Fukushima nuclear plant employed workers hired by a broker and managed by a contractor, which is illegal in Japan. The workers partly constructed tanks that spilled radioactive water. The report was based on interviews with regulators and workers, and examinations of records.

A proposal by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party on Oct. 30, 2013 said TEPCO should no longer be exclusively responsible for decommissioning the Fukushima plant. It recommends that TEPCO form a new internal unit or a separate company, or join a government agency.

The entire Fukushima cleanup operation is estimated to take 30-40 years and cost $100 billion, in addition to compensation payouts to those affected by the disaster. TEPCO has so far requested $38 billion from the Japanese government to assist with legal claims.

Over 350 residents of a small district in the Fukushima city of Tamura were allowed to return to their homes April 1 after being evacuated in 2011 due to proximity to the crippled plant. A total of 160,000 people were forced to leave their homes in the wake of the nuclear disaster. Copyright 2014 Reuters

Over 350 residents of a small district in the Fukushima city of Tamura were allowed to return to their homes April 1 after being evacuated in 2011 due to proximity to the crippled plant. A total of 160,000 people were forced to leave their homes in the wake of the nuclear disaster.

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