Fukushima Continues to Poison the World

B. McPherson
Fukushima cleanup workers exploited by contractors
The sorry saga of Fukushima continues as the Japanese government continues to dither. Since the devastating earthquake and tsunami wrecked the nuclear power plant owned by TEPCO, the world has been subjected to radioactive poison spewing from the facility. For over two years the world has listened to excuses and tales of incompetence and outright cover ups. Now some workers hired to help in the clean-up have come forward to allege corruption.

TEPCO does not hire workers directly, to help with the salvage and clean up at the Daiichi Fukushima plant, but relies on a network of contractors and sub-contractors to recruit workers from wherever they can. There have been rumblings of difficulties in attracting enough manpower to get the job done, in part due to the low wages being offered. A twist on that story was revealed, October 30th, in Japan Today, in which a worker hired to do a relatively safe job monitoring workers leaving the plant for radiation found himself in the front line of hard radiation instead. When he complained, he was fired.

He was told he would have to wear an oxygen tank and a double-layer protective suit. Even then, his handlers told him, the radiation would be so high it could burn through his annual exposure limit in just under an hour. Japan Today

When the worker, Tetsuya Hayashi, secured another job at the plant to build concrete bases for the holding tanks for radioactive waste, he claims that the contractor skimmed a large proportion of his wages and paid him in cash handed over in plain brown bags.

The people of Japan have paid a heavy price for their embrace of nuclear energy both in the pocketbook and in the environment. The government made itself a part owner of TEPCO as a bailout shortly after the disaster. Now it is floating a $100 billion price tag to effect a decontamination of the area. In the meantime, both the Japanese citizenry and the rest of the world continue to have their health imperiled by the incompetence, corruption or greed of the overseers of this nuclear disaster. People around the world will die early because of Fukushima Daiichi.

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