Hundreds attend funeral of N-accident victim

Ulhas Joglekar ulhasj at
Wed Dec 29 05:13:07 MST 1999

27 December 1999
Hundreds attend funeral of N-accident victim
TOKYO: Hundreds of people attended a funeral Sunday for a worker who died
after being exposed to massive radiation in Japan's worst nuclear accident.
Mourners at the funeral of Hisashi Ouchi included employees of JCO Co., the
company that operates the plant where the accident occurred, said an
official at the city-operated funeral home in Hitachi-Ota, Ibaraki
prefecture (state).
The exact number of visitors was not immediately clear. About 400 people
attended Ouchi's wake the previous day, after which his body was cremated,
said the official, who declined to be named.
Ouchi, 35, died Tuesday. He is the first person in Japan to die from
radiation exposure in a nuclear accident. He had been in critical condition
from radiation sickness since the September 30 disaster.
The accident occurred when Ouchi and another worker mixed too much uranium
with nitric acid to make fuel, setting off an uncontrolled nuclear reaction.
Among the visitors at Saturday's wake were Science and Technology Agency
chief Hirofumi Nakasone, Ibaraki Gov. Masaru Hashimoto and Yukio Hatoyama,
leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, the funeral home official
"His long battle against his illness must have been agonizing," Kyodo News
service quoted Nakasone as saying Saturday. "We take this accident seriously
and are determined to do our best in administering the country's nuclear
The accident in Tokaimura, 112 km northeast of Tokyo, further eroded public
faith in Japan's aggressive nuclear power program. Hitachi-Ota, where
Ouchi's funeral was held, is just west of Tokaimura.
Critics of nuclear power said Wednesday that the death was evidence that
Japan needs to rethink its energy policy. The country relies on nuclear
power for 30 percent of its electricity.
An investigation into the Tokaimura accident found that workers at the plant
routinely violated safety procedures, including mixing uranium in buckets to
get the job done quickly. (Associated Press)
For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service
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