Tepco Admits “Serious Problem”: Fukushima plant worker ‘forgot’ to wear dosimeter — Almost over radiation limit in just 2 months — Had been working at Unit 4

Published: August 4th, 2012 at 3:16 am ET


Follow-up to: [intlink id=”just-in-fukushima-daiichi-workers-ordered-to-cover-dosimeters-with-lead-plate” type=”post”]{{empty}}[/intlink]

(Subscription Only) Title: Worker at Fukushima plant ‘forgot’ to wear dosimeter
Source: AJW by The Asahi Shimbun
Date: August 3, 2012

An employee of a TEPCO subcontractor worked at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on Aug. 3 without wearing a personal dosimeter as required, The Asahi Shimbun has learned.


The worker in question is a man in his 20s working for a second-tier subcontractor. He did piping work on the southwest side of the No. 4 reactor building, a task that TEPCO had assigned to Tokyo Energy and Systems Inc., a TEPCO group company.


the first-tier subcontractor for Tokyo Energy and Systems only borrowed enough dosimeters for its own employees, not those of the second-tier subcontractor.


“I was absent-minded because I haven’t had enough sleep, and I forgot to borrow a dosimeter,” the officials quoted the man as explaining.

According to Shinji Shiina, head of the general affairs division at Tokyo Energy and Systems, the worker in question has worked at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant since June this year. His accumulated radiation dosage level was approaching an in-house limit, so Tokyo Energy and Systems had told him he will no longer be allowed to work at the Fukushima plant from around Aug. 10, Shiina said.


Junichi Matsumoto, acting general director of TEPCO’s Nuclear Power and Plant Siting Division, at a news conference on Aug. 3

  • There was a loophole in the safety management system
  • The latest revelation constituted a “serious problem” and said there had been similar instances in the past
  • The number of past cases has yet to be established
Published: August 4th, 2012 at 3:16 am ET


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44 comments to Tepco Admits “Serious Problem”: Fukushima plant worker ‘forgot’ to wear dosimeter — Almost over radiation limit in just 2 months — Had been working at Unit 4

  • dharmasyd dharmasyd

    "…he will no longer be allowed to work at the Fukushima plant from around Aug. 10, Shiina said."

    Oh good! That should help. How much more dosie dosie will he get by then?

    "Why didn't you wear your dosimeter to work today Johnny?"
    "Mommy, I forgot."

  • Replacant Replacant

    He should have been wearing the lead lined ones those work much better at covering up their accumulated radiation dosage levels. What about the employees that have collapsed while working and have been taken to the hospitals for "flu like symptoms"? What are their dosage levels?

  • Flapdoodle Flapdoodle

    "borrowed enough dosimeters"? I would think a company that works in reactors would own them.

  • WindorSolarPlease

    Why isn't there extra dosimeters close to the area they leave, so they can grab one? BORROWED..What???
    What else don't they have enough of?

    • BreadAndButter BreadAndButter

      Conscience, common sense, money, workers, time…to name a few..
      Peace WindSolarPlease

      • WindorSolarPlease

        Scary isn't it BreadAndButter. Hope all is well with you and yours.

        • Radio VicFromOregon

          This is where second tier contracting comes into play. Each level skims off the top. The subcontractor has less money and resources to work with the farther down the line. So, money for spare dosimeters may be 2nd or 3rd or 5th in priority to boots, or wrenches, or what have you. It means that TEPCO doesn't have a very large work force. Additionally, one subcontractor might provide enough safety equipment to give these guys a fighting chance while the other doesn't. TEPCO has shown that it is not interested in auditing the activities of the subcontractors to make sure that they are complying with the contract and safety standards. That would require a lot of time to conduct oversight, meetings, memo's, walk-throughs, etc. TEPCO has handed the oversight over to a subcontractor. Like the game Telephone, the message gets distorted with each new person passing it along. If these various subcontractors have little experience working together, and at least two of them are actually in competition, well, a lot gets left out.

    • rambojim


  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    TEPCO has enough money to try and fix it with "goop"..but they have to "borrow" dosimeters?

  • JustmeAlso

    Can't Tepgo buy badges from tax?

  • dodge

    The back story is that the workers dosimeters are intended to not only record the exposure at the moment but to log the exposure the individual receives. I'm not clear if that means collecting, and downloading information then resetting them after each use, or if each permanent worker would be assigned a personal dosimeter, periodically downloaded tracking each individuals total limits. Whichever, it is looking more like their use has been perverted from the task of worker protection to industry cover up.

  • rambojim

    I am personally sending an international money order to Tepco in the amount of $100.00 to purchase dosimeters. Hopefully,lead shields will not be added before distribution.

    • JustmeAlso

      Hopefully Tepgo will not spend it on Sake during the weekends off…

      • rambojim


        Good one! If they do I'm sure it will be top shelf…

        • JustmeAlso

          I want to apologize for my sarcasm, i try to keep humor in one hand and love in the other.
          I just can not get my mind over the fact that Tepgo twists and turns like an eel in a bucket filled with proverbial radio active snot.
          They have profiled themselves as a company that lies and covers up what everyone needs to know.


  • aigeezer aigeezer

    Lots of quirks to the story. One not yet mentioned is that these events happened on the same day according to the story. Must have been quite a day!

    1. An employee… worked at the… plant on Aug. 3 without wearing a personal dosimeter.

    2. The story appeared the same day: "Source: AJW by The Asahi Shimbun Date: August 3, 2012"

    3. Tepco's spin person discussed it the same day: "Junichi Matsumoto, acting general director of TEPCO’s Nuclear Power and Plant Siting Division, at a news conference on Aug. 3"

    Perhaps it's a translation thing. I don't think the news/spin cycle moves that quickly in the real world. If it is true though, then it would seem that Tepco voluntarily offered their version at the news conference. That seems out of character, but there just doesn't seem to be enough time for the worker to have told his story to the media first. One might have expected the sequence to be worker blabs to media, media confront Tepco, Tepco offers spin. Instead it seems to be Tepco offers spin out of the blue. I infer that a bigger story is hiding in there somewhere.

    One other quirk not yet mentioned:

    "officials quoted the man as explaining" is not at all the same as "the man explained".

    • rambojim

      You may be on to something aigeezer…

    • Radio VicFromOregon

      Nice fine tooth comb, aigeezer! A reporter or editor sympathetic to TEPCO who held the story back temporarily so that TEPCO could get ahead of it first? That's pretty common everywhere.

  • chrisk9

    There is a larger story here because what we are hearing makes no sense. Here is a quick outline of how all nuclear plants control radiation dose to workers, it is almost identical at every plant including Fukushima.
    1. Worker who wants to work at plant must submit his own dose history at every plant he has worked at in his life, and it is verified.
    2. Workers must have physical exam, and gets a whole body count to see if he has any internal dose.
    3. Worker is issued a permanent radiation badge that he will always wear, and will be his permanent dose record.
    4.Before he is allowed to enter any radioactive restricted area he must log in with security and dosimetry personnel and is given an alarming dosimeter.
    5. This access point at Fukushima was located in the "control building" to the east of the reactor and turbine buildings, no one was allowed to enter unless they had both dosimeters, was approved by security and had work to do in a specific area.

    In other words normal access to any work was completely controlled. Now they can not use the control building as an access point any more due to dose rates, but they must have a control point somewhere on site or nearby. Their license states these rules and measures, and I am sure that they are still using security controls.

    Having workers without dosimeters should be just impossible, and because he works for a sub contractor should make no difference. BTW I have never seen a site with more dosimeters than…

    • Radio VicFromOregon

      @chrisk9 – i think that under these extraordinary circumstances, many personal safety protocols may well be placed along the wayside for certain workers, especially if they are considered to not be working in the "highly contaminated" areas. The rationale to do so will be very strong for TEPCO et al, especially now that subcontractors are primarily doing the non-technical labor. Heck, the first few days they had workers wading in radioactive water without any dosimeters or any working radiation monitors. The workers were guessing if it was safe or not and spent as little time as they could at whatever task they were sent in to do. This was the period when rumors began about the storing of worker's bodies and workers missing and never being heard from again. I also don't think the plant is licensed to TEPCO completely at this point. I thought the Japanese government took over certain functions there several months ago. There is some kind of extension in place for TEPCO to maintain some control for victim pay-out purposes so that a complete bailout by the government is forestalled. At Chernobyl, volunteers physically lifted chunks of radioactive fuel by hand with just gloves, ran for the pit, threw the fuel in and ran back. It was the fastest way to get the fuel back into the reactor site and save the lives of others. Dosimeters were not in use during this period. I also think that the resultant deaths were not counted in the tally of NPP radiation caused deaths.

  • CB CB

    From my understanding, one working not only around or near the melt outs should be wearing one, but also residents of Tokyo and surrounding prefectures. Of course uncovered by a lead shielding. A whole body counter should be made available to residents.

    • CB CB

      Also with the Tepco personnel recording the dosimeters falsifying readings, it doesn't matter if he was wearing one or not. I'm sure this is a common event, safety seems lax to non existent. Safety appears to be a show.

      • MaidenHeaven MaidenHeaven

        Agreed CB, it is but a show..& setup by the bosses to be able to Always put the blame on workers who, most, have no concept of the dangers.

        • CB CB

          …..Sad…I often wonder of the heroic sacrifices made and horrific deaths of the workers. What means are made available to them for comfort during their death if any?

  • MaidenHeaven MaidenHeaven

    I believe someone Learned that workers were not being monitored properly..or knew what has been happening for some time & threatened to speak out.. Possibly even this young mans family. A complaint was filed to Tepco bosses…& a threat to go public. The threat to go public must have been from someone they knew would follow through. As a result we get this made up story in order to cover their tracks, & to put the blame on the workers.

    The fact is as chrisk9 listed, a worker would Never have been able to enter an area without having all that information recorded. Tepco is the one 100% responsible to know workers exposure. Those despicable lying scum show their colors again & again, by laying the blame on the workers.

    They have workers that have no concept of the dangers to their health or their risk of having deformed children. That is why regulations are in effect to make sure the workers are somewhat protected.

  • rambojim

    If you are a nuclear plant worker for Tepco,cleaning up after this debacle and you don't realize the risk you are taking to your health,one should seriously consider checking into a mental health clinic for a complete evaluation..

  • Radio VicFromOregon

    @rambojim, i'm thinking that decades of disinformation campaigns on the public from the nuclear industry combined with the idustry's ardent wish that it is actually a safe technology cuz they think very highly of their accomplishments, has left most people believing that the stuff is safe as can be. There is a profound and utter lack of curiosity by most humans to find out just where their instantaneous flip-of-a-switch electricity really comes from. Mental illness? Sometimes i think so, too. But, more often i think it's just a lack of gumption, initiative, and moral concern.

  • rambojim


    And the young people of Japan,do you think they think like that also?

    • Time Is Short Time Is Short

      They will eventually run out of workers. Abandonment is approaching.

    • Radio VicFromOregon

      I think that nearly all people think like that. Out of the 7 billion people inhabiting this planet, i think that probably less than a few million ever wonder what effect their consumption is having downstream as it were. It has been my experience that young people think less about it than most. Food comes from stores. No thought to the life of the chicken. Gas comes from a pump. No thought to the dead children killed for the oil. Cool clothes come from hip designers with their names plastered on the fabric or shoes. No thought of textile workers laboring 16 hours a day 6 to 7 days a week for nickels and dimes. The latest cell phone or computer. Out with the old. No thought of kids in China being contaminated as they pick through piles of discarded electronic waste for the precious metal in the motherboards. No. I do not attribute much thinking to very many.

  • dharmasyd dharmasyd

    Fukushima Diary printed this today regarding the shortage of workers and the worker without a dosimeter. Adds a new perspective:

    >>blockquote.>>"shortage of nuclear workers…

    After only 2 weeks interval, another problem came up. A sub-contract worker left his APD [dosimeter] in the bus to manipulate the integral dose. He spontaneously confessed that.

    It was a male worker in 20s. He worked to arrange pipes on the South West side of reactor4 from 7AM to 11AM with other 3 workers.<<<end blockquote<<<

    Again…More to the story than meets the eye!

  • RichardPerry

    So the worker forgot every day to use a meter, hard to believe when seeing others were using meters. Lies pretty little lies.