HIROSHIMA – A Hiroshima-based research institute plans to conduct lifelong health monitoring of people who worked at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant after the tsunami-triggered meltdown disaster struck there on March 11, 2011, it was learned on Wednesday.
This will be the first such long-running survey on the people who worked there, according to the health ministry.
Last July, the ministry sought research institutes that hoped to carry out the lifelong health survey, and the Radiation Effects Research Foundation was selected in October.
RERF is seeking those who are willing to participate in the survey from among some 20,000 people engaged in reactor cooling, rubble removal and other work at the Tokyo Electric Power Co. plant between March and December in 2011.
It plans to set up local monitoring bases as the former plant workers are scattered across the country now.
The institute has already sent letters about the survey to about 5,000 former plant workers living in Fukushima Prefecture, home to the crippled nuclear plant, and has so far received replies from some 1,000 of them.
The institute plans to begin the health monitoring by the end of this month.
“If we can learn what radiation dose level begins to affect health, that would be a breakthrough,” said Toshiteru Okubo, chairman of RERF.
It will be the first time for RERF to carry out a survey on people other than victims of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and their families.