Inside Fukushima Cleanup: Willy-Nilly Safety, Training
Many workers lack training, equipment needed
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2011 8:54 AM CDT
In this May 10, 2011 photo, workers check the status of the water level indicator at the Unit 1 reactor building at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan.   (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co., File)

(Newser) – Three months after the crisis at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant began, the Wall Street Journal takes a look at safety measures in interviews with seven of the people they're designed to protect. One contractor had just a 30-minute briefing before stepping onto the grounds in the early days of the nuclear crisis; he didn’t—and still doesn’t—have the proper paperwork required to work in a radioactive environment. Tokyo Electric Power Co. has relied heavily on workers like him, who often barely understand the dangers they’re facing.

The safety concerns at Fukushima have been well-documented—eight workers so far have probably received larger doses of radiation than allowed, and Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency has taken Tepco to task for violations—but the Journal’s interviews show in greater detail the chaos inside the plant, the sluggish implementation of alternatives when systems broke down, and the lack of training and even safety equipment for workers. One group of workers says they weren’t even told they were going to Fukushima when they were recruited. And for all this, Tepco has now declared the emergency over—reducing the pay rate for cleanup workers to only 50% more than the normal rate.