Fukushima Daiichi workers to sue Tepco — NHK World

” Workers at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are planning to sue Tokyo Electric Power Company, demanding it pay wages suited for the dangerous work.

Four male workers at a TEPCO subcontractor will file a lawsuit at the Iwaki branch of the Fukushima district court on Wednesday.

The workers are doing plumbing work on tanks that store radioactive water at the plant.

They say their wages are too low considering the risk of radiation exposure they face. The workers are demanding TEPCO pay each of them about 96-thousand dollars in compensation.

They say their wages haven’t changed even after TEPCO announced an increase in labor payments to subcontractors by around 96 dollars last November.

One of the plaintiffs in his 30s said he is worried about his health because his monthly radiation exposure levels sometimes exceed 4 millisieverts.

He said though he had been reluctant to voice his concerns over fear of losing his job, the lawsuit will make it easier for workers to speak up.

Tsuguo Hirota, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, said TEPCO is responsible for making sure the subcontractors properly remunerate workers. He said he wants to bring the working conditions at the Daiichi plant into the open through the trial.

While TEPCO faces the challenge of securing three to six thousand workers everyday for the decommissioning of the plant, its treatment of workers will be dealt with in court for the first time.

Officials at Tokyo Electric Power Company say they are unaware of the details of the lawsuit but that they will deal with the case after hearing the plaintiffs in court. ”


Fukushima No. 1 chief feared nuclear doom for eastern Japan — The Japan Times

” The chief of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant said in testimony before his death that he feared the core meltdowns he was trying to contain in March 2011 would cause catastrophic damage to eastern Japan, government documents show.

“Our image was a catastrophe for eastern Japan,” Masao Yoshida told a government panel probing the Fukushima nuclear crisis. “I thought we were really dead.”

Yoshida wanted his testimony to remain confidential after his death because the account might contain mistakes from the confusion created by the crisis triggered by the massive earthquake and tsunami of March 11. But leaks to two major Japanese dailies prompted the government last week to announce its intent to disclose most of the documents, which detail the drama that took place during the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

According to documents obtained Saturday, Yoshida rejected the government’s opinion that the plant owner Tokyo Electric Power Co. attempted a “complete withdrawal” of all staff from the plant on March 15. He was also angry with Tepco headquarters and the administration of then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan, which he thought had failed to understand the dire situation his workers were facing on the ground.

“We did not escape,” Yoshida is quoted as saying in the roughly 400 pages of testimony, scheduled to be released next month.

Yoshida’s testimony was reflected in the panel’s final report in July 2012 along with those of more than 770 other people involved in the disaster. Yoshida died of esophageal cancer the following July at age 58.In May, the daily Asahi Shimbun reported in Japanese and English that 90 percent of the plant’s workers left the damaged complex despite being told by Yoshida to stay put, citing his testimony. But Yoshida did not say they were violating his order on purpose.

At one serious point in the crisis, on March 14, 2011, when it looked like the containment vessel of reactor No. 2 was going to fail and pollute the area with high amounts of radiation, Yoshida said he thought he was finished.

“I really don’t want to recall this part,” he said, because he was bracing for the worst — a total failure in which the fuel melts and breaches both the pressure vessel and the containment vessel.

“All the radioactive materials would go out and be scattered,” he said.

But the workers who were failing to inject water into the No. 2 reactor to cool the molten fuel caught a break when the air pressure in the containment vessel dropped, allowing the fire engines to get the water in.

When the Asahi first reported the contents of the testimony, the government said the documents would be kept confidential to honor Yoshida’s wishes. But the government has since reversed itself because withholding the documents amid the leaks might actually contradict Yoshida’s wishes. ”


Government OK’s growing rice for public sale within Fukushima contamination zone — Natural Society

” Just recently, farmers in the city of Tamura, Fukushima Prefecture, have begun planting rice in a district previously designated as a ‘no-plant zone’ due to of radioactive fallout. This will be the first time since March, 2011’s core meltdowns that rice intended for public sale will be planted in fields that are possibly still contaminated with radioactive cesium and other toxic materials.

While the Japanese public is vehemently opposed to GMO, do they really want to eat radioactive rice? The government of Japan seems not to care.

Despite the urging of the people of Japan, the government continues to allow farming in radioactive areas while also permitting large quantities of imported GM canola from Canada. There is also now GM canola growing wild around Japanese ports and roads to major food oil companies.

Genetically modified canola such as Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready canola has been found growing around these ports when being tested for GM contamination. Japan was also recently duped into accepting Monsanto’s GM soybeans. Does this country really need any more toxic food?

In other news, animals and people living near the Fukushima radiation are suffering. Wild monkeys that reside in a forest near Fukushima are now showing alarming changes in their blood composition. This doesn’t bode well for humans who were exposed to radiation from within several hundred kilometers of the Daiichi site.

Just weeks ago, two Japanese farmers whose livelihoods are in ruins due to the 2011 nuclear disaster staged a protest at Tokyo’s agriculture ministry, scuffling briefly with police as they unsuccessfully tried to unload a bull from a truck.

Masami Yoshizawa and fellow farmer Naoto Matsumura have remained at their farms to care for their own and others’ abandoned livestock in areas where access has been restricted due to radiation fears since the March, 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant. The livestock they brought with them for the protest had developed unexplainable white spots on their coats. The farmers believe it is due to radioactive fallout.

Thousands of farmers lost their livelihoods when their farms, produce, and livestock were declared off-limits and unsafe, but allowing radioactive farms to plant now doesn’t solve the problem, and neither do genetically modified foods. It seems the corporate biotech bullies won’t stop their own agricultural terrorism, even when a country is down on their luck. ”


Should Japan restart its nuclear reactors? — Truthout

Arnie Gundersen provides an excellent recap of the events leading up to the March 2011 nuclear meltdowns as well as the concurrent failure of 24 emergency diesel generators at four separate nuclear power sites.

” Only luck and real courage at 14 nuclear reactors on Japan’s Pacific coast overcame the technical failures of nuclear power and prevented the nation from being destroyed by radiation.

The untold story of March 11, 2011 is how close Japan came to three more spent fuel pool fires at Fukushima Daiichi and four meltdowns at Fukushima Daini.

When the magnitude 9.0 earthquake off the Pacific coast caused a seismic shock wave that reverberated throughout northern Japan, the country’s nuclear plants shut down automatically, as planned, preventing any further nuclear chain reactions.

Therein lies nuclear power’s fatal flaw, because an automatic shutdown does not stop the ongoing heat generated inside each nuclear reactor.

When uranium atoms split (a process called fission), they release tremendous energy, as well as rubble. Even when the chain reaction stops, the highly radioactive rubble emits decay heat that continues for years. Automatic shutdown simply means that no new nuclear fissions will occur.

A tsunami struck the west coast of Japan at Fukushima Daiichi just 45 minutes after the earthquake and plant shutdown, damaging all six nuclear reactors at the site and destroying shoreline emergency cooling water pumps.

The tsunami flooded Fukushima Daiichi’s emergency diesel generators. This is portrayed as the cause of the triple meltdown, because without diesel generators producing electricity, the plant could not be cooled.

Some have suggested that the diesel generators should be relocated so they are higher than a tsunami could reach, but this is the wrong solution to the wrong problem.

When the tsunami struck, the cooling equipment along the shoreline was turned into a scrap yard of twisted metal. Even if they had not been flooded, without operational shoreline pumps, the emergency diesel generators were doomed to fail, making it impossible to cool the nuclear core. In truth, the utter destruction of the shoreline pumps caused the triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi.

The tsunami also wrecked cooling pumps at eight other reactors located at Fukushima Daini, Onagawa, and Tokai.

Twenty-four of the 37 emergency diesel generators located at four separate nuclear power sites, which contained a total of 14 nuclear reactors, failed during the tsunami. Of the 24 diesel generators that failed, only nine failures were due to flooding (eight at Fukushima Daiichi and one at Fukushima Daini). The other 15 diesel generators were not flooded, but were disabled when the tsunami wrecked their shoreline cooling pumps.

The situation in Japan was dire when the sun set on March 11, 2011. At Fukushima Daiichi, three reactors were melting down and three spent fuel pools were at risk of catching fire because they could not be cooled.

Conditions were also worsening at Fukushima Daini’s four reactors.

It was good fortune and extreme courage that saved Japan and its people from a more tragic catastrophe.

First, the wind blew out to sea rather than inland. Experts have acknowledged that only 20 percent of Fukushima’s airborne radiation releases blew inland, while 80 percent streamed out to sea. If the wind had blown in the opposite direction, exposure to radiation would have been five times worse, and Tokyo would have been evacuated.

Fortunately, the tsunami-generating earthquake struck during a normal workday, when almost 1,000 people were working at Fukushima Daiichi and thousands more were working at Fukushima Daini. The employees trapped on site fought courageously to mitigate the escalating catastrophe. Without their efforts, Japan could have had as many as 10 nuclear meltdowns and simultaneous spent fuel fires.

If the earthquake and tsunami had begun at night, only 200 employees would have been working at these plants. With roads and bridges destroyed, none of the necessary staff would have been able to return to work.

Now, more than three years after the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, shoreline cooling pumps throughout the world – including in Japan – remain unprotected from flooding or terrorist attacks.

Japan is prone to earthquakes and tsunamis. Is reopening its nuclear plants worth the risk to its people and their homeland?

The simultaneous technological failure at 14 nuclear reactors due to a single natural phenomenon clearly shows that the nuclear engineers who envisioned and designed nuclear power failed to expect the unexpected.

Unfortunately, the nuclear industry continues to push its message that nuclear power can be made safer. Fukushima, and before it Chernobyl, shows us that nuclear technology will always be able to destroy the fabric of a country in the blink of an eye. ”


Tepco says 400-kg control console fell Into Fukushima fuel pool — Bloomberg

” Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) said it’s detected no change in radiation levels in the Fukushima Dai-Ichi No. 3 reactor building after a 400 kilogram piece of equipment slipped from a crane and fell back into a pool holding spent uranium fuel rods.

The accident happened at around 12:45 p.m. today as the company was attempting to move what it described as a crane control console, according to a statement on its website.

The console, which is about a meter wide and 1.6 meters high, was blown into the pool on March 14, 2011, when the No. 3 reactor building exploded following an earthquake and tsunami that wrecked the Fukushima plant.

Today, the utility known as Tepco was attempting to move the device as part of its cleanup at the site, said spokesman Hiroshi Itagaki. No one was injured and no changes to radiation levels have been detected, he said. The crane was being operated by remote control.

Itagaki said the company is unable to say at present whether the accident damaged any of the uranium fuel rods in the pool, but the stable radiation readings indicate otherwise.

Three reactors melted down in the disaster at the Fukushima plant on March 11, 2011. Tepco has started to remove spent fuel assemblies from the pool in the neighboring reactor building No. 4. ”