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Nuclear plant worker’s cancer judged not to be a work-related illness

The man worked as an expert inspector at Mühleberg nuclear power plant in 2010 Keystone

The Federal Court has dismissed the appeal of a former employee of two Swiss nuclear power plants who was diagnosed with bladder and prostate cancer. The man took legal action after the national accident insurance fund refused benefits for an occupational illness.

The now 52-year-old man worked at the Leibstadt nuclear power plant in 2003 and 2004. In 2010 he worked as an expert for the Swiss Association for Technical Inspections at Mühleberg nuclear power plant.

After he was diagnosed with cancer, in 2016 he applied to the Swiss National Accident Insurance Fund (SUVA) for benefits on account of a work-related illness.

SUVA refused, and the man came before the Federal Court for the first time last year. The court overturned an initial unfavourable ruling against him, finding that the expert opinion commissioned by the man cast doubt on the conclusions of the SUVA occupational doctor. The court ordered a multidisciplinary judicial expert opinion.

In July this year, the social insurance court of canton Zurich again rejected the man’s appeal. It based its decision on an expert opinion by a professor emeritus from Munich, a specialist in radiobiology.

According to the expert opinion, occupational radiation exposure would have had to be more than 500 times higher to achieve a 50% probability of causing bladder cancer. In the case of prostate cancer, the factor was at least 1,500.

The Federal Court supported this view in a ruling published on Wednesday.

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