A disturbing article was put on the fist page of a morning issue of the daily Asahi Shimbun July 21. It heads with: radiation dose concealed, a dosimeter shielded with lead plates. It has disclosed facts on workers at the Fukushima nuclear power plant involving in the recovery efforts after the accident. They are employed by subcontractors of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the operator of plant, and are forced to carry a dosimeter covered with lead plates in the pocket during working so that measured readings are kept low.
CONCEALMENT OF RADIATION DOSE - SERIOUS CRIME
Immediately after the accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Power Plant three workers were exposed to high level radiation with their feet dipped in the contaminated water up to the height of ankles. Accidents continue: shortage of radioactivity meters, an insufficient instruction to wear protective masks, hindrance against workers from checking internal radiation dose, and etc. Mishaps and troubles to risk safety of workers take place one after another.
Concerning the trouble that workers could not have their internal radiation level examined, TEPCO had announced the names of 13 workers last December. It is eight months since then, but ten out of them cannot be traced.
Violation of Industrial Safety and Health Law - Crime of Extortion
Let's look at the dosimeter incident. The dose meter is called APD (integral dosimeter) and has an alarm system. Workers enter on-site carrying an APD in the pocket of the shirt under the protective clothing in order that the meter senses radiation level to measure dose that he has had on the whole body during working. An alarm signals when radiation level reaches the previously set figure. It is a lifeline to workers engaging in the area where radiation level is high.
What happens if a dosimeter is shielded with a lead cover? Radiation is obstructed and readings are kept low. If a sensor is interrupted, it cannot measure correctly, and thus you cannot estimate accumulated dose. Even if radiation is high, an alarm is not triggered. Workers are left exposed to high level radiation at a time.
The 'incident' began with an instruction given to a team of some ten workers by a senior executive of a local sub-contractor, Build-Up Co. He told them to cover a meter with lead plates. Three of them refused it on the spot. Why did the company executive give the instruction? Because he wants workers to work for longer in the highly-radioactive area to trigger an alarm* though he explains one way or another.
(*The government sets the safety limit of 20 milisieverts a year. Employers are prohibited to employ a worker when his accumulated dose exceeds it.)
Industrial Safety and Health Law binds employers to take preventive measures when they want personnel to work in the condition in which the health may be risked. To cover a dosimeter with lead plates - it obviously violates the law.
The executive says he did not force the team to follow his supervision. But his instruction is an order from a superior person, even if workers do not obey it. That means it is extortion, according to the criminal code. When the concealment incident revealed, he gave another instruction to the team: to tell 'five on the team used lead plates and working hour was 30-40 minutes'.
Radiation-Exposed Work - An Evil to Reject
Approximately 3,000 workers work everyday at the disaster area of Fukushima Dai-ichi Plant and 90% of them are employed by sub-contractors of TEPCO or dispatched by labor-brokers. It is reported that the total dose of radiation of these workers is four times higher than that of TEPCO's employees. Disclosed today are illegal dispatches of workers, workforce rental involved by gangster groups and pocketing of wages under the multiple sub-contracting employment structure.
An illegal and illegitimate employment practice came up, because it is found at the disastrous Fukushima plant. Usually, however, damages inflicted on workers and residents at the sites where nuclear materials/power generation is involved have been covered up and discarded in the dark. It is estimated that in total over two million people have engaged in the nuclear power industry in the country up to last June and that 400-500 thousands of them were exposed radiation. Facts remain unreported.
Nuclear power generation cannot survive unless workers sacrifice their health or life. It is an evil of the human society. Even if the government is to give up this energy source, an extraordinary radiation labor risk will be involved to close the reactors.
Without safety no labor holds. An illegal and illegitimate labor act, as described above, to shield a dose meter with lead plates, must be totally eradicated.
August 28, 2012