Originally created 12/22/99

Worker exposed to radiation in nuclear accident dies



TOKYO -- A worker who was exposed to lethal doses of radiation in Japan's worst nuclear accident died late today, a hospital spokesman said.

Hisashi Ouchi, 35, had been in critical condition since the Sept. 30 accident at a uranium-reprocessing plant. He died today, said Tokyo University Hospital spokesman Hisao Yanagisawa.

Ouchi is the first fatality from radiation exposure caused by an accident at a nuclear facility in Japan.

The accident severely injured Ouchi and two other workers at the nuclear fuel plant in Tokaimura, 70 miles northeast of Tokyo and exposed dozens of other people to less serious doses of radiation.

Thousands of people were forced indoors or evacuated.

An investigation found that workers at the plant, operated by JCO Co., routinely violated safety procedures, including mixing uranium in buckets to get the job done quickly.

One of the three seriously injured workers, Yutaka Yokokawa, has been released from the hospital but is still receiving treatment.