How the world’s most radioactive man cried blood as his skin melted away as he survived an 83-day nightmare after a horrific accident at Japan’s nuclear power plant
Hisashi Ouchi, 35, became the world’s ‘most radioactive man’ in 1999 He was the worst affected by Japan’s Tokaimura nuclear accident in 1999. Ouchi – said to have ‘melted skin’ and ‘weeping blood’ – died 83 days later.
A Japanese nuclear disaster on September 30, 1999 was the world’s worst since Chernobyl, and left the world’s ‘most radioactive’ man with ‘melting skin’.
That victim was Hisashi Ouchi, a worker at a uranium processing plant in Tokaimura – 70 miles northeast of Tokyo – who was exposed to large amounts of radiation that resulted in severe burns.
It was the first of 83 days of unimaginable agony for the 35-year-old, who died on December 21, after pleading with doctors to stop his treatment months earlier.
The accident resulted from several fatal mistakes while he and his colleagues were preparing uranium for use as reactor fuel at a privately operated plant, including carrying uranium in buckets and not wearing proper protective equipment.
Technicians Ouchi and Masato Shinohara, along with supervisor Yutaka Yokokawa, were speeding up the conversion process by placing 16 kg of uranium in a vat with a maximum limit of 2.4 kg, when a chain-reaction occurred as Ouchi was ‘draped’ over the tank. .
Hisashi Ouchi ‘covered’ a vat of uranium when a nuclear chain reaction occurred at the nuclear fuel processing plant in Tokaimura, Japan.
He was taken to the hospital, where he would spend 83 agonizing days before his death
The deaths of Ouchi and fellow technician Masato Shinohara led to the introduction of new laws regarding safety laws in Japan’s nuclear power industry.
He was exposed to 17 sieverts of radiation – for comparison, emergency responders at Chernobyl were exposed to 0.25 – more than twice what is considered a lethal dose.
This is a record amount of radiation in any living person, making him the most radioactive person of all time, sometimes referred to as the world’s ‘most radioactive’.
He and his colleagues saw a blue flash above the vat, indicating that a similar reaction had occurred inside a nuclear bomb, releasing deadly neutron radiation.
Colleagues quickly lose consciousness as alarms go off inside the plant and radiation levels rise to 4,000 times normal levels.
The surrounding area was evacuated, many unaware that the imposing building was a nuclear facility.
Ouchi was taken to Tokyo University Hospital, where doctors found he had almost no white blood cells and required extensive skin grafts and multiple blood transfusions.
Local reports at the time claimed that she was also ‘crying blood’ and begging doctors to stop her treatment.
However, he was resuscitated on his 59th day in hospital after suffering multiple heart attacks.
Ouchi finally died on December 21, 1999, and a few months later in April 2000, his fellow technician Shinohara died of multiple organ failure at the age of 40.
Yokokawa – the supervisor – was also hospitalized, but was released after three months with minor radiation sickness.
He later faced charges of professional negligence in October 2000, along with five other JCO officials, who were all found guilty in April 2001.
JCO later paid $121 million to settle 6,875 compensation claims from people and businesses who suffered or were exposed to radiation and lost its credentials to operate nuclear plants.
The incident triggered a series of new laws aimed at tightening operational safety requirements in Japan’s nuclear power industry.