Thursday, April 21, 2011

A physician who met with Fukushima workers on Wednesday reveals dreadful working conditions, worn-out staff

In the article "Doctor warns Japan nuke workers are at their limit", Public Health Department chairman at Ehime University's medical school Takeshi Tanigawa met with 80 workers over a four day period and obtained first-hand knowledge of the exactly what their working conditions were like. As we would expect, things are not the greatest at the plant.

"Tokyo Electric Power Co, the plant operator, said 245 workers from the company and affiliated companies were stationed at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant Wednesday. Soldiers, firefighters and police officers also were at the site."

"The nuclear workers have been toiling around the clock to stabilize the plant. Tanigawa said they get little rest, no baths or fresh food and are under the constant threat of exposure to radiation, which remains so high in many places that robots are being used to take measurements."

"Tanigawa said the work conditions don't meet the basic rights guaranteed workers by Japan's constitution. During their breaks at the Fukushima Daini plant, they often sleep on the floor of a gymnasium, "wrapped only in blankets and with no privacy," he said."

"Because they sleep so close to each other, snoring is a big problem," he said. "Normally, that might sound funny, but in this case it is denying people sleep and that can lead to bad performance on the job."

"The workers, most of them middle-aged men, suffer insomnia and show signs of dehydration and high blood pressure, he said. One had gout. Tanigawa said he is concerned they may develop depression or heart problems."

"Tanigawa said the mental stress of the job is deepened by the fear of radiation exposure, the concerns of their loved ones — many don't want the men to stay on at the plant — and the fact that many of the workers themselves lost homes or family in the tsunami."

Considering what they are up against, the fruits of their labor are admirable as seen in the slow reduction of exposure numbers throughout the prefectures (source: IAEA) -

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