29 March 2011

Nuke workers endure tough conditions to contain disaster

MARCH 30, 2011 10:59
Without a clue to resolving the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident, workers doing recovery operations at the site are increasingly in danger amid a toughening work environment.

Japanese news outlets reported Tuesday on the situation at the site as briefed by Kazma Yokota, director of the nuclear safety inspection office under the Nuclear Safety Commission. Yokota visited the nuclear facility from Tuesday last week to Saturday.

Some 450 workers at the plant convene a meeting at 7 a.m. every day and check the situation of the nuclear reactors before working from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. High density radiation of up to 1,000 mSv per hour has been detected at the site, requiring frequent deployment of replacement workers or emergency evacuation.

What they eat and drink is poor at best, mostly two packets of biscuits, one serving of vegetable juice, and one can of canned food. They survive on two meals and up to 1.5 liters of water per person daily.

These working conditions are extremely difficult to endure for the workers, whose bodies and faces are completely sealed with protective gear and masks. They also cannot shower or change clothes.

Since radiation levels are too high at the site, supplies can only be transported on a restricted basis via Tokyo Electric Power Co. buses. So the company cannot readily increase the volume of supplies for them.

The workers sleep curled up only with one blanket each at an emergency countermeasure hall some 300 meters northwest of Reactor No. 1. The hall measuring 35 square meters is equipped with anti-dust facilities, but is still exposed to a considerable level of radiation.

Finding replacement workers is also tough due to the difficult work environment. The Japanese daily Tokyo Shimbun said the power company is urging workers who evacuated to return, promising to pay 400,000 yen (4,900 U.S. dollars) per day.”

No comments: