Thursday, July 28, 2011

Workers at Fukushima Complain of Bad Conditions.. So What?

The damaged nuclear reactor problem at Fukushima is becoming more and more stabilized. It's been more than a week since humans entered damaged reactor #. Of course, for the people living near the plant and the workers there, things are still terrible. For the rest of us, as is always prudent and wise, we must be ever diligent about what we buy and feed our children.


Complaining about harsh work conditions? Join the club.


Nevertheless, Fukushima hasn't become the disaster that some had claimed it would become.


The fact is that, in this country, as in life everywhere, the good must be taken with the bad. We have benefitted from nuclear power, we must bear the costs of that. Especially the people who lived near the plant who made livelihoods off nuclear power.


Whereas before, some elements of the mass media were screaming about nuclear holocaust, armageddon and nuclear winter, the hyperbole has slowly been dying away.


Once again, the scorecard must be examined, as I wrote in Radiation, Fukushima Facts and Blogger Frustration:


At Chernobyl, 237 people suffered from acute radiation sickness soon after the accident, of whom 31 died within the first three months.

Here's a fun fact for you about Fukushima: Total number of people reported to have acute radiation sickness from Fukushima; 0 (zero). Total deaths from Fukushima nuclear accident in first four + months; 0 (zero).    


Now, since millions haven't died, the news changes focus on the workers at Fukushima.


N-plant workers still labor under severe conditions
Severe summer heat causing heatstroke and poor accommodations have plagued workers at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, even though the government has announced that Step 1 of settling the crisis was nearly complete.
Improving worker conditions at the plant was one of the targets of Step 1. However, some employees are still not happy with their conditions.
Hoo hum. I bet that you could survey all employees in any field and find that most of them are not happy with their conditions.
On Tuesday, Goshi Hosono, the state minister responsible for dealing with the nuclear crisis, and Tokyo Electric Power Co., announced the near completion of Step 1.
Working conditions at the plant have improved to some extent. Worker exposure to radiation has been steadily reduced and efforts have been made to make workers more comfortable.
Currently, about 1,500 people work at the plant every day. A gymnasium at the Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant, about 10 kilometers from the No. 1 plant, is now equipped with showers and bunk beds for 240 people. Temporary dormitories are also under construction in the area, but problems remain.
I guess the danger from radiation can't be so bad for us living so far away. If it is so dangerous, then how is it that 1,500 people could be working at the plant everyday?
At the special earthquake-resistant building at the No. 1 plant, housing the crisis headquarters, workers are still forced to sleep on blankets on the floor. "I can't sleep well here," a TEPCO employee said.
The summer heat has been hard on workers wearing heavy protective gear including full-face masks, as temperatures around the No. 1 plant have exceeded 30 C almost every day.
This is Japan. It's summer. It's hot. We don't really need a weather report. We also do not need to be reminded that, since this is Japan, people sleep on the floor. Funny that. I sleep on the floor every night too.
According to TEPCO, 32 workers had been diagnosed as suffering from heatstroke as of Monday. On Tuesday, a worker in his 20s suffering heatstroke symptoms was sent to the hospital. Another TEPCO worker said, "It's too hot. My cool vest [containing refrigerant] doesn't work well."
Even though air-conditioned rest stations were set up at 11 locations in the plant, workers' faces are flushed from the heat when they remove their masks, according to TEPCO sources.
As radiation-tainted debris has steadily been removed, radiation levels at the plant have decreased.
Well, the radiation levels at the plant have decreased? That's good news. Thirty two workers have heatstroke related problems in the summer in Japan because they are working in protective suits in 30 degree celsius (86 fahrenheit) temperatures and this is the news?!
You're kidding, right?
I have one piece of advice for the TEPCO workers at Fukushima; You accepted a job at a certain renumeration. No one forced you into taking that job. You decided to take it by yourselves. 
I hate to sound so cold, but, if you don't like it, then quit... Or ask for a pay raise. You guys took this job on your own volition. What did you expect?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"My cool vest [containing refrigerant] doesn't work well.""

It is... how do I say this?... it is so pathetically weak and wimpish to say that no matter the context.

Oh, oh how I wished I had one of those, countless times in my life.

I helped load glass once in a glass factory. There was some radiation involved, and giant heaters in the ceiling to dissipate humidity and we were forced to wear brain boilers,... I mean, hard hats. And now I learn we could've had cooling vests... Sigh.

I think I might have stayed on at the job and suffered the baldness that comes from wearing a hard hat if I would've know about those. ... Or maybe not, I kind of like having my hair.