Tepco Says Worker Dies After Accident at Fukushima Nuclear Plant

A contract laborer at the wrecked Fukushima Dai-Ichi atomic station died after being buried while performing excavation work, the first work-related death since the March 2011 nuclear disaster, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.

The male worker, who was left unconscious by the accident at the plant at 2:20 p.m. today, was pronounced dead about three hours later at Iwaki Kyoritsu Hospital in Fukushima prefecture, the plant operator known as Tepco said in an e-mailed statement. The man was about 50 years old, according to Tatsuhiro Yamagishi, a spokesman for the utility.

The worker was breaking up concrete around a storage building to repair its foundation when the ground collapsed, trapping him under concrete and sediment, according to the statement.

While others have died at the plant before or after their shifts or during breaks, this is the first death attributed to a work accident, Yamagishi said.

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority commissioners urged Tepco President Naomi Hirose at a meeting last week to prioritize plant safety and dedicate adequate funding to safety provisions.

Six plant workers were exposed to radiation in October after a hose carrying contaminated water was mistakenly detached from desalination equipment.

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