Photo/IllutrationWorkers doze off in a bus after their work at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in November 2016. A fourth worker has been granted workers’ compensation for cancer. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

A Tokyo Electric Power Co. employee who developed leukemia after battling the Fukushima nuclear disaster was awarded workers’ compensation, the fourth responder whose cancer has been recognized as work-related, the labor ministry said.

The employee, who is in his 40s, worked at the now-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant from April 1994 to February 2016.

After the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami battered the nuclear plant on March 11, 2011, the employee was engaged in emergency operations to send water to cool the reactor containment vessels and assess the extent of damage. He continued in this emergency role until December 2011, the ministry said Dec. 13.

During his entire time at the plant, his overall radiation dose totaled 99 millisieverts. However, 96 millisieverts were logged after the crisis unfolded.

After he developed leukemia in February 2016, the employee applied for workers’ compensation for his condition at the Tomioka Labor Standards Inspection Office in Fukushima Prefecture.

Four people, including the TEPCO employee, who were mobilized to deal with the nuclear crisis have been awarded workers’ compensation for cancer. Three of the cases were for leukemia.

According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, 16 workers have applied for workers’ compensation for cancer, saying their exposure to radiation during the emergency operation at the Fukushima No. 1 plant caused their disease.

Five workers had their applications denied, while two withdrew their claims.

Labor authorities are scrutinizing the remaining five cases.

Workers at nuclear facilities who develop leukemia are eligible for compensation under the following conditions: the disease is diagnosed more than a year after the first exposure to radiation; their annual radiation doses exceed 5 millisieverts; and other factors that could contribute to the onset of the disease can be ruled out.

The conditions were set in 1976.

TEPCO estimates that 10,553 workers had annual doses of more than 5 millisieverts in fiscal 2011, which ended in March 2012.

The number of such workers has been steadily declining, but there were still 2,860 workers in that category in fiscal 2016, according to TEPCO.

Experts say more workers will likely apply for workers’ compensation for illnesses developed in the line of duty at the crippled plant.