On Wednesday, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare admitted that a man employed at the Fukushima nuclear power plant died of lung cancer linked to radiation exposure. Three of the power plant’s six reactors melted down in March 2011 when a tsunami hit the Fukushima area.
The deceased, who was in his 50s, “was in charge of measuring radiation at the Fukushima No.1 plant shortly after its meltdown,” the BBC reported.
“After hearing opinions from a panel of radiologists and other experts, the ministry ruled that the man’s family should be paid compensation,” the BBC wrote.
The man had worked in nuclear power plants since the 1980s. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2016.
The Ministry has tied four illnesses to radiation exposure from the Fukushima disaster. Eighteen thousand people died in the tsunami that caused the disaster, and more than 160,000 people were relocated in the aftermath of the reactor meltdowns, according to Reuters.
Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) owns the Fukushima power plant and is facing numerous compensation claims, including those of the families of 40 people who died while being evacuated from a hospital that was near the nuclear power plant. In 2014, TEPCO agreed to compensate the family of a woman who committed suicide after she was evacuated from her home.
Radioactive releases in the wake of Fukushima were considerably smaller than those following one of the most notable nuclear disasters, Chernobyl. Still, the disaster was a massive one. Cleanup and compensation costs to citizens who were affected by the disaster could balloon to $200 billion, according to one 2016 estimate.