September 29, 2014

Hospitals nominally designated for radiation treatment double from 2011

The number of hospitals locally “designated” to treat radiation exposure has grown to 201 from 83 before the Fukushima nuclear disaster, a survey says.

But the survey, conducted by Kyodo News, also showed that the so-called designated hospitals, as of August, were still struggling with shortages of skilled personnel and equipment as central government pushes to restart dozens of idled reactors, many of them old.

The hospitals were designated by local governments as medical institutions that will provide emergency treatment for radiation exposure if nuclear accidents occur. But there are no requirements for receiving the designation — including number of doctors specialized in radiation treatment.

This step was advised through a report compiled by the now-defunct Nuclear Safety Commission after the deadly 1999 criticality accident at a uranium-processing plant in the village of Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority is reviewing medical preparedness for nuclear disasters as part of a package of initiatives introduced in response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster but has not hammered out any specifics.

The survey was conducted from July to September, 15 years after the criticality accident at JCO Co. in Tokai on Sept. 30, 1999, which killed two people.

Responses were received from all 24 prefectural governments selected for their proximity to nuclear facilities.

Source: Japan Times