Workers at Fukushima nuclear plant recall desperation


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the workers efforts should be more than highly applauded. They need to be given free medical checks and care for the rest of their lives, and their pensions paid and families taken care of if they can no longer work. Its the least the government can do for them. By staying they averted a far bigger crisis.

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Yes Nicky, great comments! But the sad reality is that this Fukushima mess is not OVER YET!

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Wow! Had tears in my eyes reading that. Cannot possibly imagine what they've been through but one thing I do know, they are absolute heroes. The kind of heroes you only think exist in movies on the tv. I don't know if I could have reacted with the same amount of steadfastness and valour under the same circumstances. The shaking here in Tokyo scared me nearly to death which I am ashamed to say when you think about the poor folk up north who dealt with so much more.

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All that can be said to praise these men and women has been said and will be said again so all I and my family can say is AGAIN, 'thank you'.

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I take my hat off to these couragerous Fukushima 99! They are true heroes! Thank you from bottom of my heart. This story made me cry. What a story..

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Wow, I was moved to tears as well.

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I can't even pretend to Samantha said, I was scared half to death here in Tokyo.

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These people are awesome and they deserve our gratitude and respect but why does this article have to include the lies by TEPCO and the government? How can they be predicting cold shutdown in a month when the melted fuel has most likely gone through the containment units and into the ground? This article makes it sound like the danger is all over with. But once again, these people are amazing and I hope their families are well taken care of .

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The embattled operator of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has released workers’ accounts of the desperate moments surrounding the huge earthquake and tsunami that triggered an atomic crisis.

"The embattled operator" = tepco... they are trying to play the sympathy card, Tepco put these workers in that desperate situtation, I feel sorry for the workers but it is Tepco's fault this happened and that they were put in that situation.

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Hats off to these brave workers, in some cases defying their inept company's orders to do what probably resulted in a LOT less destruction than we've seen. I hope they are all doing well and continue to remain healthy. The company, and the people of this nation (and arguably abroad) owe them a huge debt of gratitude.

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Nicky WashidaDec. 04, 2011 - 08:52AM JST

You need to become the Japanese PM or take over TEPCO and do it yourself if you want it to happen ;-). Otherwise it will never happen.

BTW. Just a question if there's any lawyer or legal expert among the posters. Does any reader, outsider or witness who was not involved in the incident the right to initiate a legal procedure to drag the responsible TEPCO bosses and ministry officials to court for e.g. mistreating those workers or for cruelty toward them or for mishandling the situation?

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Concerning The Munya Times comments, no one is surely ever going to simulate the reality of a nuclear reactor accident in which all power is lost by the mightiest tsunami known anywhere for decades. The problem is on what simulated accident scenario does one actually carry out a training exercise, to teach staff what they have to do in an emergency. But unless a reactor blows up, Daiichi would appear to have taught the basic lesson across the world that there's nothing worse than losing all electrical supplies, which are essential for the majority of reactors in order to keep the reactor cores and spent fuel element pools with continuous flowing cooling water.

I would reckon when the reactor installation design was being considered, who could - even perhaps have dared to - have predicted that the largest off-shore earthquake in a subducting region would be accompanied by a huge tsunami 14 to 16 metres high, and would be likely to occur during the lifetime of the Daiichi nuclear power station?

I know nothing about the Japanese nuclear regulatory authority, and the status and professionalism of its staff, either now nor way back 40 years or more. Arguably they should be the people, in collaboration with the plant and site designers, who should have established the required criteria that needed to be complied with before construction started. From what I have read in Japanese press and TEPCO statements, what was done was nothing more nor less than what was required to provide the necessary safety features for what was believed to be the worst accident scenario years ago.

The only aspect about which strong criticism can be levelled about the Daiichi nuclear plants is that the standby diesel generators were located below ground level in basements, with nothing to prevent them from being flooded in a totally unforeseen emergency.

But after more or less 40 years of successful operation of the Daiichi nuclear plants, who should have carried out a review of nuclear safety? As I would see it, that should have been the task of the Japanese nuclear regulatory authority. It could obviously be argued that, over the four decades, someone in the TEPCO management could have thought about it and raised the issue with upper management. Maybe someone indeed did do so - who knows - but they were most likely told that there's nothing to worry about, forget about it, so they let the matter rest. It can all too easily happen.

All over the world, as a result of the Daiichi accident, nuclear regulatory authorities have been hard at work assessing their own regulations, and reactor installations, and although many recommendations have been made, I can't recall any instances where there was any likelihood of any accident occurring as it did with the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plants becoming a criteria for any major recommendations.

No doubt there are nuclear sites which could become inundated by floods, and any emergency diesel generators must obviously be relocated, where necessary, to be substantially above the highest predicted flood level.

Although the Daiichi nuclear plants had a seawall to protect against what had been thought to be the highest predicted tsunami - about 5.4 metres - I don't recall reading anything about release channels for allowing flood water on the site to run into the sea. I have to assume that some such feature was present in the seawall.

Very few people, as I read from the many comments to reports in JapanToday, seem to have a good word for the TEPCO management. It would be very difficult for anyone to have been able to predict all the consequences of the tsunami - loss of electrical supplies; hydrogen explosions; leakage of radioactively contaminated water into the sea; spread of contamination across a wide are of land, largely to the NE of the Daiichi site, as would be expected from the prevailing winds. Did anyone predict the strongest offshore earthquake and highest tsunami affecting Japan over the last few centuries, as I understand it? Seemingly not.

And TEPCO has already announced that nuclear plant damage at Daiichi purely from the magnitude ~9 earthquake was minimal, with all systems, including the back-up emergency diesel generators, working perfectly - until the arrival of the tsunami. That alone says something very helpful about the general approach to nuclear safety of the plants arising from an earthquake, does it not, even of magnitude 9. And, most importantly, elsewhere in Japan. The unfortunate resulting tsunami threw all the predictions out of the window.

No one at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station were killed by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami there, but I believe about 15 000 people lost their lives as a direct result of the tsunami. From the data so far provided on land contamination, no one is likely to receive anywhere near to an ICRP body burden of radioactivity, which seems to be mainly caesium that has been spread in the environment.

By far the greatest trauma was a direct result of that awful tsunami, both at Fukushima Daiichi and in the regional population at large.

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"It could obviously be argued that, over the four decades, someone in the TEPCO management could have thought about it and raised the issue with upper management. Maybe someone indeed did do so - who knows - but they were most likely told that there's nothing to worry about, forget about it, so they let the matter rest."

But, Mike23, there was an engineer at the plant ( don't ask me to name him...) who brought up such a possibility, stating historical markings, but was repeatedly denounced by all in control at the time...

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Of course the workers must be applauded. But I would like to know more about their history. Sadly, all that I know is that they worked hard.

Japanese media and propaganda are too too weak. Fukushima incident was one of the worst in history. In the western, an incident like this would be used to make a big propaganda about heroism, willpower, efficiency, union, overcoming, drama, hard work, assistance, support and the list goes on...

The media must hear hear these people so that the entire world can know their efforts and heroism, by their own words, valorizing these workers as human beings.

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@mike23thurgoodDec. 04, 2011 - 10:25PM JST

So, what's the different then between simulation and anticipation. None of the them going to give reality, yet I would consider anticipation and even if going on with running the plant I would pay more attention to safety, preparation, supply of protection gears, logistic etc. in time?

What kept them? The lack of simulation, the warnings, the anticipation of the disaster, the known fact that the plant was built at a geographically vulnerable place? What kept them from listening to their engineers and analysis from foreign experts?

What kept them after the disaster from supplying their workers with proper food, accommodation etc. What is keeping them from giving them workers what e.g. Nicky Washida mentioned?

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what's the different = what's the difference

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Last year, 88% of the 83,000 workers at the nation's 18 commercial nuclear power plants were contract workers, according to Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, a government regulator.

Temporary workers at the Fukushima plant in 2010 also faced radiation levels 16 times higher than did employees of TEPCO.

Contractors are called in for the most dangerous work, according to the government's industrial safety agency.

This job is a death sentence, performed by workers who aren't being given information about the dangers they face.,0,347252.story

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The nuclear gypsies will receive a life time of radiation within 3-5 years, then they are banned from further work. They have no contract, no work no pay.

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I hope those HelloWork temp heros will be Occupying TEPCO when they are banned from further work and left to die on their own...could be some serious social action in the future. TEPCO has been heartless money grubbers towards these thousands of temp workers, as far as I can see.

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Mike wrote a book.

I wish those workers good health and early retirement.

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Good article Zichi. Should be titled, "Japanese Slaves, Clean Fukushima"

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Reading the above posts one might ask "isn't it a miracle that only 33 000 people commit suicide in Japan annually?" Or is TEPCO's employment policy the only one that can take a toll on their employees' lives?

One worker said

"Is there any reason for us to be here when there is nothing we can do.....?"

33 000 people a year in Japan asks themselves "is there any reason to "gambaru" when we die anyhow?

So, they either asked a question of themselves "why should I do it if I die anyhow" or "why shouldn't I do it if I die anyhow" Why should I be honest and loyal if I die anyhow or why shouldn't I be honest if I die anyhow?

My question is, how many of them did it, how many of them fled in time, how many of them failed TEPCO the same way that TEPCO failed their workers?

It's a wonder that those 83 000 workers that @zichi mentioned still willing to work at all. Probably 'cause as @zichi said they don't know where they are. Soooo, our society and social security requires huge number of people who don't know what they are doing....otherwise.....???

.How can they run a NPP if they don't know where they are and what they are doing?

TEPCO cheats, our society cheats, and we all pay the price together in the end.

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mike23thurgood, you took a lot of effort to write a long comment, but unfortunately almost all of it is just repeating the official fairy tales which have long been proven wrong. Please do a little bit of background search before you post your comments.

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