New York Times, Hiroko Tabuchi, Mar. 16, 2014:
October 2013 incident at Fukushima Daiichi
- “There is a crisis of manpower at the plant,” said Yukiteru Naka, founder of Tohoku Enterprise, a contractor and former plant engineer for General Electric. 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. [...] the team received only a 20-minute briefing from their supervisor and were given no diagrams of the system they were to fix [...] the laborers were not warned that a hose near the one they would be removing was filled with water laced with radioactive cesium. [...] [While removing] protective gear [...] 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.
Living Conditions at Plant
- [Workers] washed down a simple meal of chicken, eggplant and rice with beer and whiskey [...] were housed in tiny rooms [....] little to do at night other than watch TV, play roulette at a tiny game center, and drink. A store [at] Tepco’s base outside the plant — sells beer, whiskey and sake. According to several accounts, alcoholism is rampant, and one worker said he and his colleagues sometimes showed up for work hung over.
- Struggling to maintain 3,000 workers at the plant [...] labor brokers are getting desperate. [and] have increasingly taken their pleas online and made clear their standards are low. One ad, for work involving radiation monitoring, said, “You must have common sense, and be able to carry out a conversation.” [...] “We’re talking people who are basically living hand-to-mouth.” said Hiroyuki Watanabe, a City Council member in nearby Iwaki.
Published: March 18th, 2014 at 5:11 am ET