Asahi: Disturbing picture emerging as nuclear employees come out of the woodwork — Fukushima workers report groups clocking in with no dosimeters

Published: August 6th, 2012 at 12:33 pm ET


(Subscription Only) Title: Nuclear power plants: A hidden world of untruths, unethical behavior
Source: Asahi AJW
Author: Compiled from reports by Miki Aoki, Toshio Tada and Tamiyuki Kihara
Date: August 06, 2012

The long and the short of it is this: Nuclear power plants probably would not operate properly in Japan if workers were not willing to sacrifice their health, and possibly their lives.

It emerges that workers at nuclear plants routinely resorted to ingenious ways to conceal the true levels of radiation to which they were exposed–simply to go on earning a living.

That is the disturbing picture that emerges from accounts given by more than 10 people, either working at nuclear power plants or now retired.

They came out of the woodwork after The Asahi Shimbun reported in late July that a senior executive of a subcontractor to Tokyo Electric Power Co. ordered workers to cover dosimeters with lead plates to keep measured radiation doses at low levels.


While it is troubling that workers hid their dosimeters while working at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, where radiation levels soared after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami last year, it is now clear that such practices have been in place for years, if not decades.


Fukushima Workers

One man in his 30s who is employed at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant recalled looking into the back seat of a vehicle parked within the complex in May and finding about 20 sets of items that every worker normally carries.

Each set consisted of a dosimeter that displays radiation exposure levels for that day, a badge-type dosimeter that measures accumulated radiation exposure levels over a longer period, as well as the IDs for the workers. The man peeked into the vehicle three hours later and noticed the gear was still in the back seat. He concluded that workers clocked in at the nuclear plant without their dosimeters.

He cited similar instances on five subsequent occasions.


A man in his 40s echoed his colleague’s comments. He said that between March and April, there were 10 occasions when he noticed 10 sets of such items placed in a vehicle within the same parking lot.

Published: August 6th, 2012 at 12:33 pm ET


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  3. TV: “A new and disturbing development” around Fukushima — Worrying claims of ‘cancer cluster’ emerging — Specialists deeply concerned (VIDEO) November 3, 2013
  4. Asahi: White blood cell count spikes in Fukushima worker — 3,000+ may not have used dosimeters at plant just after 3/11 September 4, 2012
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8 comments to Asahi: Disturbing picture emerging as nuclear employees come out of the woodwork — Fukushima workers report groups clocking in with no dosimeters

  • aigeezer aigeezer

    Interesting find, Admin. I think we have generally thought this kind of practice developed under the present emergency situation. Now it begs the question – how widespread was/is it? Tepco only? Japan only? Worldwide?… and what parts of the "routine practices" story are still to come?

    The evidence so far is anecdotal and circumstantial, but now that the trickle has started maybe plenty of hard evidence will emerge. I hope someone filmed those cars, for instance, and matched them up with a group of workers without dosimeters.

    I wish the story didn't reach us as "10 occasions when he noticed 10 sets", and I'm hoping it's a translation thing where "10" means something like "several".

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    You get radiated if you live within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant. Continually. And of course, so do the workers.

  • chrisk9

    From my own experiences and what I have been told by others in the industry this practice is virtually unknown in the American commercial nuclear business. This is one thing that would shut down any nuclear plant in this country. I have sat through a few intense meetings with the NRC when there was a suspected or possible overexposure. It is a very serious topic, and workers could lose there job for doing it here.

    That said I did hear a couple stories about it happening in some the early nuclear work in places like Hanford or early test reactors. But today there are just too many controls in place for it to be even very possible.

    If they are finding ID badges with the alarming dosimeter and permanent badge lying around that means they have no control over not just dose but also security. When I was there, Fukushima was very serious about security.

    If they have given up on radiation protection and security it is certainly time for someone else to take over from Tepco.

    • aigeezer aigeezer

      Thanks, chrisk9. I was hoping you would speak to the topic. I guess the possibilities now include that practices changed since you last saw the site, that you were misled when you were there (perhaps you were considered a visiting VIP?) or that these stories are getting their facts wrong.

      Watch and wait.

  • arclight arclight

    A Death of A Rescue Squad Member (An Unconfirmed Story, Nov.6 2011

    "..This video clip is from the Q&A session after the talk by Mr. Taro Yamada (man on the right), an actor-and-anti-nuke-activist, at the "Naional Forum of School Lunch" held in Sapporo City on November 6, 2011.

    The death of the member of the special rescue unit of the Fire Department, whom the questioner in the video is talking about, hasn't been confirmed officially nor reported in MSM.

    The person called "Dr. Sakiyama" in the video is Dr. Hisako Sakiyama, a specialist in radiation exposure at Takagi School and ex-chief researcher at National Institute of Radiological Sciences. She was a researcher at MIT before working for the Institute.

    Translation and captioning by tokyobrowntabby…"

  • MaidenHeaven MaidenHeaven

    Blame the worker, Blame the worker, Blame the worker. So now when an investigation is done on using Employers forcing workers to use lead shields. the investigators will have read this report…& automatically skew the results.

    This is a perfect way to divert blame from Tepco.

    What needs to be done is this report & the one of the lead shields rammed down the Executives throat as proof that they can not handle their workers nor are they capable of securing the plant. And as a result of lax supervision they have are negligent & responsible for ALL medical care the workers will need as a result of their exposure to radiation.

    ~A percentage of the Corporate pensions need to be directed to the workers medical care for life.

  • andagi andagi

    Dear MaidenHeaven,
    Your very powerful words reflect my sentiments. Who is representing the rights of these extraordinarily brave persons?