NHK: Many Fukushima nuclear workers leaving after exceeding exposure limit — Young people must be trained to work at plant -Tokyo Professor

Published: August 24th, 2012 at 11:51 am ET
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Title: Fukushima nuclear workers reaching exposure limit
Source: NHK
Date: Aug 24, 2012

Controlling the crippled nuclear plant in Fukushima is an ongoing challenge in Japan. But many workers crucial to the effort are reaching the limit for radiation exposure.

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The labor ministry says that as of March — one year since the nuclear accident — 167 workers had left the plant with cumulative exposure levels of over 100 millisieverts.

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Companies sending personnel to the plant say many workers continue to leave after exceeding or nearing the limit.

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University of Tokyo Professor Kazumitsu Nawata warns of the consequences of losing nuclear plant workers with necessary expertise. He says young workers must be trained due to the need for massive manpower to fully bring the Daiichi plant under control.

Published: August 24th, 2012 at 11:51 am ET
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37 comments

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37 comments to NHK: Many Fukushima nuclear workers leaving after exceeding exposure limit — Young people must be trained to work at plant -Tokyo Professor

  • Centaur Centaur

    … a modern day version of "paying the price" by "feeding the young and innocent ones to the (self-created) dragon". :/


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  • Sickputer

    There is no excuse for a major industrial power like Japan to shirk the cost of paying for an adequate work force.

    The US is paying billions yearly for 15,000 cleanup workers at the Hanford Reservation. A billion gallons of toxic plutonium, uranium, and other toxic radioactive materials have already leaked from storage tanks into the soil in southeast Washington state. Workers are sickened there from the toxic fumes and many will die of radiation-induced illnesses.

    Over the next 25 years the underground toxins already in the water table will defeat their efforts to halt it from escaping to the Columbia River and then flow into the Pacific. Their hope is to stop the worst of the leakage which if unchecked will assuredly destroy all the sea life on this planet and with it most of the human race. Our government created the problem and is aware of the potential for human extinction.

    So if Japan can't muster a few thousand workers for their own mess then the people of Japan need to throw out the entire government. The threat in Japan is immediate, not decades or centuries before the worst arrives. There is still explosion and fire potential and the underground plume to the Pacific is not decades away, it is happening now.

    There is no time to quibble over finances or whose fault it is. Japan is poised on the nuclear precipice of death. If they can't or won't commit an army of workers then the people of Japan are simply an island of expendable.


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    • PhilipUpNorth philipupnorth

      Right on, SP! It is now clear that, for whatever reason, Japan has lost the warrior spirit of their past, and won't send in 15,000 workers to contain Fuku. Fuku has utterly defeated Japan. The proud Japanese seem to have turned into zombies, the walking dead. And if the US and Russia doesn't figure this out, sweep aside the Japanese, and take control of Fuku, the future of all animals and humans on planet earth is seriously in question.


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      • Atomfritz Atomfritz

        Indeed.
        If a hundred thousand Japanese would be ready and willing to clean up the mess, shouting "Banzai Kamikaze!", the problem would be quickly solved :)

        They indeed lost their spirit.


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        • BreadAndButter BreadAndButter

          Fuku is (on the whole) unfixable, imho. The workers on site achieved more progress than what would've been possible in most other countries.
          Will YOU, Atomfritz, go there and help if they ask for intl. help? If not, stop moaning about the Japanese losing their spirit.


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  • Sickputer

    …expendable victims.


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  • dosdos dosdos

    The term is "cannon fodder".


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  • Sol Man

    Philip, nothing will make the question a certainty more than continuing to stay the course. The smartest minds in the room (like Nicolai Tesla, Bloom Energy, Cree Lighting) must work to get past nuclear and C-based energy sources away forever. We can't afford not to invest in alternatives. The other is killing us.


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    • AFTERSHOCK AFTERSHOCK

      which is precisely what we're doing Sol Man…


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    • PhilipUpNorth philipupnorth

      Sol Man: Bloom Box! Now, we're talking!
      My goal is to have a home powered 30% by wind, 30% by solar, and 30% by propane fuel cells. Some day…


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      • AFTERSHOCK AFTERSHOCK

        not what you or I are or will be doing. Sol Man's referring to the big picture. And please refrain from the proverbial "it all starts with the individual". By the time the bulk of us has managed to ("Some day…") put the resources together to make-up for damage (past and present), it'll be game over. Which is why I'm also adding to his post, that it's already in motion…


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  • dodge

    What do you pay a young person who works for a year or two, ruins his health, reaches his limit and can not longer work? What is the appropriate compensation for his family? These workers will be needed generation after generation… to imagine the cost boggles the imagination. Obviously it will fall to the people of Japan and the world, the stockholders will make no move to pay these costs.


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    • GlowInTheDark GlowInTheDark

      @dodge,
      Re:young person When they are fed with wrong information and values, the young will do it…'for the country' regardless. Mislead the herds…it's so easy. They are doing it now.


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    • patb2009

      train old people, age 50-60, send them in, let them get cancer at 65


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      • CBuck CBuck

        Well, isn't that just a lovely thought. Death sentence because of your age. It's just fine and dandy for older people to get cancer, right? They're gonna die anyway….grrrrrr.
        I don't know if you're being serious or sarcastic, but it rubs me the wrong way.


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        • Maggie123

          PatB, first I'll suggest that "50-60" is not "old people", (actually more than a suggestion but maybe you've not thought about it much.)

          I'm of the "right age" to volunteer for a "senior suicide mission" on behalf of humanity, and have thought about it (as a concept only). I don't happen to live anywhere near Japan and making travel arrangements would be extremely complicated. Training required, as I understand it, is minimal.

          But even if need arose closer to home, one of my thoughts would be: "Are the people for whom I make this sacrifice showing strong signs of a shift toward valuing one another, earth, and all life?" So far, I'd have to answer myself that no, they're not.


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          • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

            The demographic interested in this topic is 55-65.
            The top wrungs of the corporate,government and military are filled with this same age group.
            Of this sector… many are in their personal and professional prime.
            Game on.


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        • aigeezer aigeezer

          CBuck, patb2009 offers a twist on the professor's original ageist remarks – the professor wants to give "young people" the death sentence.

          It's a useful reminder of the danger in such categorizations.

          Luckily I'm too old to fit in either category, but if I had to suggest a category for such suicide missions I think I'd start with politicians, academics and executives who promote and build nuke plants (regardless of their age). ;-)


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  • PhilipUpNorth philipupnorth

    If you could take a time machine into the future, what would you learn about Fuku?
    As the future unfolds, will it become clear that action could have been taken after 311, but wasn't?
    Will it become clear that at some point, Fuku became a problem that was impossible to overcome?
    Will you see mutant demi-humans eating deformed fruit from scraggly trees?
    Or, will you find a barren landscape, with 400+ nuclear reactors left to melt unattended into the landscape?
    Will you find a poisoned planet with a few species of radiophile and chemophile bacteria left behind after an ELE as proof that life still exists?
    And only ourselves, our ignorance, and our greed to blame.


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  • GlowInTheDark GlowInTheDark

    @philipupnorth
    You know I often think about this. The life doesn't end here (sorry, it's just my opinion ok) If I ever end up in a 'fortunate' circumstance that I'll come back soon to this world, I envision that to have a missing limb is norm. These days (talking in future tense), everyone is either so sick or something wrong physically. If you are born with nothing obviously wrong, you are damn lucky and in minority. I hope I don't have to come back but that's not like I can choose, we have to go by the flow.


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    • AFTERSHOCK AFTERSHOCK

      actually Glow, you are right. It doesn't end as some would remonstrate with their haunting words. We do go on. Humans continue about their myopic dreams. The machines do evolve beyond their contemporaries. The planet is eventually abandoned to the 'meek'; those too unfortunate to meet transit criteria. Not unlike now, it continues to reflect the psyche of the collective. Privilege and poverty continue their eternal dance. I can assure you, it's very beautiful out there. If only a few knew how awesome it was…


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      • GlowInTheDark GlowInTheDark

        Thank you Aftershock. Whether I am correct or not, you have given me a word that actually matters to me great deal in your post. Interesting how everything sort of links in, doesn't it. I know it's beautiful out there…. just waiting, the colours are amazing that you cannot describe.


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        • AFTERSHOCK AFTERSHOCK

          @Glow: it's actually stunning. I have to say, those who are born to it are as likely to take it for granted as are those of this planet. But you never get over the cascading wash of colors when you look into the core of a galaxy. From the surface of this planet, the atmosphere filters out the 'natural' array of colors. You get a hint of color with the aid of a telescope. The 'cities' are extremely large, with surprisingly few (for safety reasons) observation ports. The ports are constructed with high-density optical grade acrylic (like) material that's on the order of six inches thick. They're a full twelve feet in height and run the full length of hall; about fifty feet. At each end of these halls are computer controlled air-locks, which are normally left open to traffic. (There are egress ports located on the rear walls, which can be manually operated for exiting back-into the main structure if there's an emergency lock-down. Emergency lock-downs are periodically performed on a regular basis, to acclimate 'city' occupants.) As there are limited views of the outside, these halls are known to be places for impromptu meetings; day's scheduled work and such. What's really neat is the visual effect of a galaxy splayed-out in all its glory, slowly 'passing by' as the super-structure turns. Not only is it breathtaking in its display of color…it's hypnotic. Unfortunately, there's always work to do…


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          • GlowInTheDark GlowInTheDark

            Yes, we are limited to our physical capability, 20 Hz – 20 kHz for hearing and red to purple spectrum for colour but of course, the reality is that it doesn't stop there. Anything beyond that, you have to sense it in other way. You know when I am in a dreamworld, I'm always busy…never get to dream of laying on a carribean beach etc lol


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            • AFTERSHOCK AFTERSHOCK

              @Glow: only when humans are ready to accept the consequences of their actions, will they be ready to move forward. As it is now, there are way too many who are willing to enjoy the benefits without the 'labor' of truly thinking it out. Such may have been acceptable ten thousand years ago. Problem is, the quality of our compulsions (techno-lust) have undermined the fragile foundation of our natural form. If we're to continue enjoying the experience of being alive, then we must accept what sacrifices are necessary to maintain a natural environment. I'm spelling it out so there's no escaping the obvious…


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    • PhilipUpNorth philipupnorth

      So reincarnation is like a time machine, but without user controls. Right, GlowInTheDark?

      Let me tell you about my recurring dream. I am always homeless, drifting around. Finding an unused blanket on a patch of floor to sleep on at night. Rolling out my sleeping bag stored on the front poarch of a vacant house. Sleeping in the middle of a street to be dry in the rain, knowing no car will come along. Setting out in daylight to search for food. No seeds, no stores, no car, no garden. Kitchen in a house with 20 residents doing the best they can. People come and go. Always dreams in different homeless situations.

      Be very thankful right now. Things could be al lot worse. (And probably will be, for us all, very shortly). :(


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      • AFTERSHOCK AFTERSHOCK

        fear not philip. As we have in the past, we shall continue doing so. And just in case you weren't aware of it, you're twiddling those control knobs this very moment! We are the culmination of darkness; not just the light. It is the darkness that 'highlights' our insight…so fear nothing…especially the dark…


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      • GlowInTheDark GlowInTheDark

        @philipupnorth
        I don't know if your version or my version is better lol
        Don't take my word for it. It is my own belief from my own experience. Yours could be different. Who's truth is correct? The scientists yet to probe the existance of God…but that's another subject elsewhere. I agree about appreciating what we've got now though…yes, it looks like it's gonna get worse. Our task is to minimise it. Oh we will continue, it's just not like this though lol


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  • dharmasyd dharmasyd

    Not buying it! How about all the idled workers from all the 50 some plants which have been shut down? Aren't they trained? Couldn't they do the work?

    I just wonder what is the purpose of this propaganda.


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    • Maggie123

      "Who are the workers at Fukushima" – browser search line results. So far I've only checked one link but it was informative: "Tepco liable for contract worker's safety in Fukushima": http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20120821lp.html

      Generalized summary: Plant worker positions don't require technical training. It's very low status work despite danger and responsibility even when there's no plant crisis. Workers are typically people whose work situation is vulnerable to exploitation. Plant work is contracted out, and these contractors subcontract the work, then subcontractors often subcontract even further. Despite article title, the author explains that unraveling the contractor/subcontractor web can make it difficult to legally confirm responsibility for worker safety. Technically, Tepco is responsible – but …

      This info for me helps explain why workers aren't pouring in from other places to help with Fukushima. Most workers would be young enough to either have or want families – they're already risking a lot on that count. From other headlines I gather they've also suffered stigma as "contaminated" and some information reminds us they are as traumatized as everyone else by the whole disaster, have lost family, friends, etc.

      Who knows – are workers turning down work, preferring unemployment? It might be a sane and self-respecting choice. IMO they should be offered *significant* danger pay.


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    • StPaulScout StPaulScout

      DHARM – You are making a common mistake in your thinking of the plants being 'shut down'. They may have achieved 'cold shutdown' at those plants, but the plants still require their work forces remain on site and maintain the various systems required to keep the plant from experiencing it's own accident(s). The plants may not be supplying power to the grid, but it's not like you flip a switch and go home. The physical plant must be maintained until it is decomissioned, the fuel removed, all decontamination work is done, etc. etc.


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  • Maggie123

    Hi Dharmasyd – I'm so glad you brought the workers up! I wonder about them, we've not been told. Have many of them already been cycled through? How quickly do workers reach annual or other long-term exposure limits? I recently heard at one point Chernobyl workers had a max of about 10 min to dash in, grab a piece to be part of decontamination accumulation and then they were done, exposure limits reached, (but can't recall – was it for a day, longer?) Re the workers generally, I don't think we're being told enough about them. Who are they? I've understood from somewhere that they're young, non-union, "subcontractor" employees who are more or less regarded as "collateral damage". I don't know if that's an over-generalization. I think we need a whole piece that is a comprehensive explanation of a plant worker's life. (I assume there are levels of skill, etc. … just don't know!) I have to admit I've not run a browser search to see if there's already info avail and will do so. If I find it, I'll come back and post a link. I bet Arnie knows the situation for these workers. If I can't find anything, I'll try to post a request for more thorough info on his site.


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    • patb2009

      at chernobyl, the workers clearing the roof of the rector building would wrap lead sheets around their body like primitive armor and then race out, with a shovel clear one bucket of debris and hit their lifetime limit.

      the problem is the japanese are letting their entire nation get contaminated,

      It's going to be a disaster.


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  • CBuck CBuck

    Would the criminals that are mishandling this whole situation be doing all this if it were THEIR children that had to go in and clean up this mess down the road?


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    • Maggie123

      No – at least I can't imagine it. Nor can I imagine them living near high-contamination risk situations. I don't know why the challenge question you raise doesn't have more impact. It's a fair and obvious question. This kind of separation – between those of wealth/power and those with much more limited choice – never seems to be heard even in general society! Maybe it's a question we need to ask more often, over and over – maybe a key "activist" question, with demand that it be answered!


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      • StPaulScout StPaulScout

        Take comfort in the fact that if the people running the Fukushima mess live in Japan, they are "living near high-contamination risk situations.", so are their children.


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