A worker involved in the battle to regain control of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant’s stricken reactors has questioned the safety precautions for workers taken by Tokyo Electric Power Co.
The man, who was hired by a sub-subcontractor of plant operator Tepco, cited the lack of supervision of radiation monitoring when two workers were injured and a third exposed March 24 after wading into highly contaminated water.
“We don’t normally work in water,” said the man, who was tasked with laying cables to restore power at the No. 2 reactor and wished to remain anonymous.
He said a lack of radiation monitors was at least partly to blame for the amount of radiation the three workers were exposed to. In his case, a radiation monitor constantly provides safety instructions, he said.
The three workers, dispatched by a subcontractor and a sub-subcontractor, suffered a high dose of radiation in the basement of the turbine building next to the No. 3 reactor while trying to lay cables. The three were taken to a hospital and discharged March 28.
As of Wednesday morning, there were around 300 workers at the Fukushima plant, of which about 250 were Tepco staff and the remainder employees of subcontractors and sub-subcontractors.
Meanwhile, the worker rejected one newspaper report that Tepco is paying workers several hundred thousand yen a day, saying: “That’s not happening. The work takes years and a large number of people are required for it. Who would pay such an amount of money?”
Given the extent of the damage, reactors 1 to 4 are likely to be decommissioned, but the man, who has worked at Fukushima No. 1 for years, said he is planning to return to the plant. “I think it will probably take around 50 years until work to decommission the reactors ends. I hope to continue working until the end,” he said.
Another man, who worked at the No. 6 reactor for a Tepco subcontractor before the March 11 disaster, said he has heard some of his colleagues have returned to the plant on condition they are paid ¥80,000 a day.
But the man, who is in his 40s, said he declined the offer because of the concerns of his wife and two children. He said he was also worried about being exposed to high doses of radiation. “I may not be able to take up any work at all if I go,” he said.