National

150 Fukushima No. 1 workers who got maximum radiation dose at start of crisis can now return to plant

Kyodo

Some 150 people who worked at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant whose cumulative radiation dose exceeded 100 millisieverts will be able to return to the facility starting April 1.

By law, nuclear plant operators are required to record and manage the radiation exposure of each worker over a five-year term to ensure their dosage doesn’t exceed safe limits.

According to Tokyo Electric Power Co., 150 Tepco workers and 24 subcontractor workers who dealt with the meltdown disaster that occurred right after the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami were exposed to radiation exceeding the limit. As of March 1, 129 of the Tepco employees were still working at the utility. They were moved to other divisions based on the government directive.

Since the five-year term for the workers ended in March, Tepco said it hopes experienced hands will return to engage in the decommissioning of the plant to contribute to safety at the site.

But Tepco said it will not push them to return and said those who wish to go back will be managed under a new exposure regime designed to limit a worker’s lifetime radiation dosage to 1,000 millisieverts in line with recommendations made by the International Commission on Radiological Protection.

Last year, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare created the new regime, which requires nuclear plant operators to set individual limits for workers based on their age and past exposure to radiation.

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