Japanese Workers Braved Radiation for a Temp Job  

Posted by Big Gav in ,

The NYT has a report on the radiation exposure workers at Fukushima are receiving - Japanese Workers Braved Radiation for a Temp Job (via TOD ANZ).

Takeshi Kawakami, 64, remembers climbing into the spent-fuel pool of the No. 1 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi plant during an annual maintenance shutdown in the 1980s to scrub the walls clean of radiation with brushes and rags. All workers carried dosimeters set to sound an alarm if exposure levels hit a cumulative dose limit; Mr. Kawakami said he usually did not last 20 minutes.

“It was unbearable, and you had your mask on, and it was so tight,” Mr. Kawakami said. “I started feeling dizzy. I could not even see what I was doing. I thought I would drown in my own sweat.”

Since the mid-1970s, about 50 former workers have received workers’ compensation after developing leukemia and other forms of cancer. Health experts say that though many former workers are experiencing health problems that may be a result of their nuclear work, it is often difficult to prove a direct link. Mr. Kawakami has received a diagnosis of stomach and intestinal cancer.

News of workers’ mishaps turns up periodically in safety reports: one submitted by Tokyo Electric to the government of Fukushima Prefecture in October 2010 outlines an accident during which a contract worker who had been wiping down a turbine building was exposed to harmful levels of radiation after accidentally using one of the towels on his face. In response, the company said in the report that it would provide special towels for workers to wipe their sweat.

Most day workers were evacuated from Fukushima Daiichi after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which knocked out the plant’s power and pushed some of the reactors to the brink of a partial meltdown. Since then, those who have returned have been strictly shielded from the news media; many of them are housed at a staging ground for workers that is off limits to reporters. But there have been signs that such laborers continue to play a big role at the crippled power plant.

The two workers who were injured two weeks ago when they stepped in radioactive water were subcontractor employees. As of Thursday, 21 workers at the plant had each been exposed to cumulative radiation levels of more than 100 millisieverts, or the usual limit set for nuclear plant workers during an emergency, according to Tokyo Electric. (That limit was raised to 250 millisieverts last month.)

The company refused to say how many contract workers had been exposed to radiation. Of roughly 300 workers left at the plant on Thursday, 45 were employed by contractors, the company said.

Day laborers are being lured back to the plant by wages that have increased along with the risks of working there. Mr. Ishizawa, whose home is about a mile from the plant and who evacuated with the town’s other residents the day after the quake, said he had been called last week by a former employer who offered daily wages of about $350 for just two hours of work at the Fukushima Daiichi plant — more than twice his previous pay. Some of the former members of his team have been offered nearly $1,000 a day. Offers have fluctuated depending on the progress at the plant and the perceived radiation risks that day. So far, Mr. Ishizawa has refused to return.

Working conditions have improved over the years, experts say. While exposure per worker dropped in the 1990s as safety standards improved, government statistics show, the rates have been rising since 2000, partly because there have been more accidents as reactors age. Moreover, the number of workers in the industry has risen, as the same tasks are carried out by more employees to reduce individual exposure levels.

Tetsuen Nakajima, chief priest of the 1,200-year-old Myotsuji Temple in the city of Obama near the Sea of Japan, has campaigned for workers’ rights since the 1970s, when the local utility started building reactors along the coast; today there are 15 of them. In the early 1980s, he helped found the country’s first union for day workers at nuclear plants.

The union, he said, made 19 demands of plant operators, including urging operators not to forge radiation exposure records and not to force workers to lie to government inspectors about safety procedures. Although more than 180 workers belonged to the union at its peak, its leaders were soon visited by thugs who kicked down their doors and threatened to harm their families, he said.

“They were not allowed to speak up,” Mr. Nakajima said. “Once you enter a nuclear power plant, everything’s a secret.”

1 comments

All the people must be shifted to safety zone and take the necessary action to stop the radiation as early as possible they do not pour the water (radio active) into the sea and think another alternative to drop the water.

Post a Comment

Ads

Ads

Statistics

Locations of visitors to this page

blogspot visitor
Stat Counter

Total Pageviews

Ads

Books

Followers

News

Loading...

Blog Archive

Labels

australia (581) global warming (364) solar power (333) peak oil (316) electric vehicles (191) renewable energy (173) wind power (172) ocean energy (154) csp (143) geothermal energy (142) smart grids (139) solar thermal power (133) tidal power (132) coal seam gas (127) nuclear power (121) oil (114) lng (112) geothermal power (110) iraq (108) solar pv (107) china (106) energy storage (104) green buildings (104) natural gas (102) agriculture (85) biofuel (76) oil price (75) smart meters (72) wave power (68) electricity grid (63) energy efficiency (63) uk (63) google (54) coal (52) internet (51) food prices (48) shale gas (48) surveillance (48) bicycle (47) big brother (47) thin film solar (41) biomimicry (38) canada (38) ocean power (37) scotland (36) new zealand (35) air transport (34) algae (34) water (34) queensland (32) credit crunch (31) politics (31) bioplastic (30) concentrating solar power (30) california (29) geoengineering (28) offshore wind power (28) population (28) shale oil (28) cogeneration (27) saudi arabia (27) resource wars (26) arctic ice (25) batteries (25) censorship (25) cleantech (25) woodside (25) bruce sterling (24) drought (24) ctl (23) tesla (23) economics (22) carbon tax (20) coal to liquids (20) distributed manufacturing (20) indonesia (20) iraq oil law (20) origin energy (20) brightsource (19) limits to growth (19) rail transport (19) ultracapacitor (19) buckminster fuller (18) santos (18) ausra (17) exxon (17) lithium (17) cellulosic ethanol (16) collapse (16) electric bikes (16) mapping (16) michael klare (16) ucg (16) atlantis (15) bees (15) geodynamics (15) iceland (15) psychology (15) concentrating solar thermal power (14) ethanol (14) fertiliser (14) al gore (13) biodiesel (13) brazil (13) carbon emissions (13) cities (13) investment (13) kenya (13) ambient energy (12) biochar (12) bucky fuller (12) matthew simmons (12) public transport (12) texas (12) victoria (12) cradle to cradle (11) desertec (11) energy policy (11) lithium ion batteries (11) otec (11) terra preta (11) amory lovins (10) chile (10) fabber (10) gazprom (10) goldman sachs (10) gtl (10) hybrid car (10) internet of things (10) severn estuary (10) tinfoil (10) toyota (10) volt (10) alaska (9) biomass (9) carbon trading (9) distributed generation (9) esolar (9) fuel cells (9) jeremy leggett (9) pge (9) sweden (9) afghanistan (8) antarctica (8) arrow energy (8) big oil (8) eroei (8) floating offshore wind power (8) four day week (8) guerilla gardening (8) linc energy (8) methane (8) methane hydrates (8) nanosolar (8) natural gas pipelines (8) pentland firth (8) relocalisation (8) us elections (8) western australia (8) bloom energy (7) boeing (7) chp (7) climategate (7) copenhagen (7) fish (7) stirling engine (7) vinod khosla (7) airborne wind turbines (6) apocaphilia (6) bolivia (6) ceramic fuel cells (6) cigs (6) futurism (6) jatropha (6) local currencies (6) nigeria (6) ocean acidification (6) saul griffith (6) somalia (6) t boone pickens (6) scenario planning (5) space based solar power (5) varanus island (5) garbage (4) kevin kelly (4) low temperature geothermal power (4) oled (4) tim flannery (4) v2g (4) club of rome (3) global energy grid (2) norman borlaug (2) peak oil portfolio (1)