Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fukushima Workers: Invisible Heroes

Ex-SKF is reporting on the death of another Fukushima worker.

Tepco says that only 3 have died. That is clearly not the case. Tepco has used outsourcing as a strategy for hiding worker deaths.

Hiding Fukushima worker deaths is criminal. These workers are heroes whom should be recognized for their sacrifices.

Here is an excerpt with citations from my essay on Fukushima:

Workers at the critical Fukushima plant have also been treated as disposable. Many workers claimed they were not told they would be working at the plant when hired. They did not receive dosimeters to monitor their radiation exposure during the early weeks of the crisis.[i] The command center used by workers during cleanup was subsequently revealed to be contaminated, potentially causing thousands of workers to ingest radioactive particles. Testing of workers found hundreds were contaminated. A worker waded into radioactive water and was burned because he was not wearing appropriate protection. Workers were not required to wear waterproof ponchos when it rained, although rainwater is known to wash out radioactive contamination in the air.  Ilya Perlingieri described these workers as expendable in her essay “No Protection for Fukushima’s Expendable Citizens or Us”:

On March 14, the Japanese industry of Health and Labor raised "the maximum [radiation] dose for workers to 250 mSv [milli Sieverts] a year" an increase in exposure from the previous 100 mSv.(7) These new figures are also drastically higher than those from the International Commission on Radiological Protection's guidelines stipulating a maximum of 20 mSv a year."[ii]

Workers at Fukushima’s devastated plant are clearly regarded as disposable, as are all of the Japanese citizens located within the contaminated zones. It was not therefore surprising when the Japanese news agency Mainichi reported on June 22 that the whereabouts of 30 Fukushima plant workers were unknown: "The workers' names were listed in records showing that they had been loaned dosimeters, but when the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), contacted the companies they were associated with, the companies replied that there was no record of those workers.[iii] By August, TEPCO was reporting that the whereabouts of 143 workers was unknown.[iv]

[i]              Phred Dvorak “Japanese Nuclear Cleanup Workers Detail Lax Safety Practices at Plant,” The Wall Street Journal (2011, June 14): A1, A12.

[ii]             Ilya Perlingieri “No Protection For Fukushima's 'Expendable' Citizens Or Us,” Jeff Rense (2011, May 4):

[iii]             "Whereabouts of 30 Nuclear Power Plant Subcontractors Unknown: Health Ministry" Mainichi (2011, June 21):

[iv]            “TEPCO Says It Has Lost Contact with 143 Nuclear Plant Workers,” Japan Today (2011, August 10):

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