New York Times: unskilled hired at Fukushima

What was once whispered on the fringe is now being discussed in the New York Times:

 “Out of work? Nowhere to live? Nowhere to go? Nothing to eat?” the online ad reads. “Come to Fukushima.”

That grim posting targeting the destitute, by a company seeking laborers for the ravaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, is one of the starkest indications yet of an increasingly troubled search for workers willing to carry out the hazardous decommissioning at the site.  The plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, known as Tepco, has been shifting its attention away, leaving the complex cleanup to an often badly managed, poorly trained, demoralized and sometimes unskilled work force that has made some dangerous missteps. At the same time, the company is pouring its resources into another plant, Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, that it hopes to restart this year as part of the government’s push to return to nuclear energy three years after the world’s second-worst nuclear disaster. It is a move that some members of the country’s nuclear regulatory board have criticized.

The article goes on to say that the workers are not being adequately supervised:

That crisis was especially evident one dark morning last October, when a crew of contract workers was sent to remove hoses and valves as part of a long-overdue upgrade to the plant’s water purification system.

According to regulatory filings by Tepco, the team received only a 20-minute briefing from their supervisor and were given no diagrams of the system they were to fix and no review of safety procedures — a scenario a former supervisor at the plant called unthinkable. Worse yet, the laborers were not warned that a hose near the one they would be removing was filled with water laced with radioactive cesium.  As the men shambled off in their bulky protective gear, their supervisor, juggling multiple responsibilities, left to check on another crew. They chose the wrong hose, and a torrent of radioactive water began spilling out. Panicked, the workers thrust their gloved hands into the water to try to stop the leak, spraying themselves and two other workers who raced over to help.

These conditions at Fukushima have been discussed in a previous posts, such as a post.   Cleaning up a nuclear reactor disaster is problematic in the best of hands.   Disaster upon man made disaster is likely when  a complex project in the hands of the unskilled and the untrained.   These acts, apparently sanctioned by TEPCO, are environmental crimes against the world.

 

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One thought on “New York Times: unskilled hired at Fukushima

  1. Pingback: TEPCO makes pledge for April fools day | Vernon Radiation Safety

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