Fukushima workers face "nightmarish world of high radiation, difficult terrain"

[video link]

UK's Channel Four has a news feature out on the plight of the 3,000 workers currently being bussed into the Fukushima Daiichi plant on behalf of some 600 subcontractor companies tasked with securing and cleaning up the nuclear disaster site.

Some of those workers take the job out of a sense of duty; many just need the money. Widespread displacement and contamination in the region has left many desperate.

The Channel 4 report is bleak. One doctor interviewed said many workers hide the amount of radiation they've received by tossing aside their personal radiation meters. Why? If they reach the daily limit, they won't be allowed to work any more.

"The real radiation levels are much higher," the doctor says, "That's a fact."

As an aside: I've heard of similar behavior at nuclear sites in the US, too, chatting with people who have worked in the nuclear industry or whose parents did. The need to earn a living will cause people to take terrible health risks.

Channel 4 correspondent John Sparks filed the story, and has a related post up here.

Image, TEPCO: A machine collects radioactive material in the air for sampling at the Unit 3 reactor of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Fukushima prefecture in this handout picture taken on June 13 and released on June 14, 2011.

(via @noktonlux via enenews.com)

Fukushima: First photojournalist inside plant captures daily life of cleanup workers


  1. Where ‘o where are our ‘Nuclear is Safe’ Pollyannas? Oh yes, coal is terrible for us, but nukes are safe!

    1. Yeah! We should ban modern nuclear reactors because a 40 year old obsolete nuclear reactor design turned out to be unsafe after being struck by a massive earthquake and a tsunami!

      And yes, since coal kills about 14,000 people per year in the US alone, I’d consider that to be far worse than nuclear power. The Fukushima incident has killed how many? Oh yeah, none.

  2. Hey, now, try to look at the silver lining here! It’s especially convenient that the evacuation made so many people and families homeless and unemployed. It made recruitment for the 600 subcontracting companies that much easier!

  3. the image caption of the machine sampling  radioactivity in unit 3 is actually a concrete pump reconfigured to pump water by remote control, typically into the almost inaccessible spent fuel pools.

  4. “people who have worked in the nuclear industry or whose parents did. The
    need to earn a living will cause people to take terrible health risks.”

    Indeed. It will also encourage employers to downplay or even fail to mention those health risks. In 1947, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission labs reported 12 deaths, and 500 acute cases, of berylliosis. And yet tens of thousands of workers were exposed in the half-century that followed. http://www.wired.com/thisdayintech/2009/07/dayintech_0715/

  5. I wonder why they’ve yet to call real experts in to deal with this.

    I’m sure there’s plenty of Chernobyl experts that wouldn’t mind lending a hand, I mean compared to their day job this is a walk in the park.

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