Monday, July 11, 2011

Wife of a Worker Who Died of Heart Attack at Fukushima I Nuke Plant Wants His Death Recognized as Industrial Accident

Remember the worker at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant who collapsed on the second day on the job and died on May 14, without any treatment for nearly 3 hours because 1) there was no doctor at Fukushima I Nuke Plant; 2) no ambulance would come to the plant so TEPCO drove him to J-Village which is 20 kilometers away; 3) there was nothing they could do at J-Village so finally they put him on an ambulance to a hospital in Iwaki City, 48 kilometers from the plant and 28 kilometers from J-Village?

And his death was due to a heart attack, we were later told.

The following is my liberal redaction mixed with my observation of the Mainichi Shinbun Japanese article (7/12/2011). If you read Japanese, go read it. I just cannot do the literal translation, as it is too painful.

Well, the worker was Mr. Nobukatsu Osumi, 60 years old at the time of his death, of Omaezaki City in Shizuoka Prefecture. He had worked in various nuclear power plants as a plumber. He was hired by a subcontractor 4th-degree removed from the original contractor to work at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant as a temporary worker.

He was one of those nameless workers who support the operation of nuclear plants in Japan, moving from plant to plant and doing necessary maintenance and repair work. They used to be called "Genpatsu (nuke plant) Gypsy" in Japan. More recently, they were called "Fukushima 50".

On the first day of his work on May 13, his shift was from 6AM to 9AM. His job was to work on the pipe installation in the Central Waste Processing Facility (where the contaminated water treatment system was being set up). On the second day on May 14, he collapsed as he was carrying a special cutting tool with a colleague, and never regained consciousness.

As I said, there was no doctor on site, and there was no ambulance that would come. The hospitals in the area nearby had been evacuated or abandoned.

Since he died of an illness, not an injury, neither TEPCO nor Toshiba, the original contractor whose 4th-degree subcontractor hired Mr. Osumi, has paid any compensation to his widow, 53-year-old wife from Thailand.

And it is the wife, with the help of an attorney, who has filed for the worker's compensation claiming her husband's death was due to the excessively heavy workload in a very short time period and should be recognized as "industrial accident".

She says her husband did not have any particular health problem. When she saw her husband's body at the morgue at the Fukushima police station, both his ears were in deep purple color, and there were cuts on the face and the chin. But it was determined that the cause of death was illness, and there was no compensation. TEPCO says there's not much connection between the nature of the work and his death. Toshiba says there's not enough information to link the work condition with his death.

TEPCO says his radiation exposure was low, at 0.68 millisievert. 0.68 millisievert in less than 3 days is LOW? Since he had worked at other nuclear power plants over the years, his accumulated radiation exposure may have been significant.

The last conversation they had was on the night Mr. Osumi arrived at Fukushima I Nuke Plant. Mr. Osumi told his wife that he would work for 2 more years, then they would go to Thailand and become farmers, as his wife does not read or write Japanese well.

The wife feels tormented for having sent her husband off to a place she didn't know was dangerous. She still works as a part-time worker at a bento (lunch box) factory from 5AM to 7PM, sometimes to 10PM, and earns 130,000 yen (about US$1,600) per month. She says she doesn't even know how to go to places without her husband. She still lives in an apartment she shared with her husband, but now when she comes home there is no one who would cheerfully greet her.

Not a cent for a lowly worker who worked and died at Fukushima I, but the ex-president of TEPCO can get $6 million upon retirement, or so it is rumored.

Not a very proud moment to be a Japanese.


Marc Sheffner said...

Brilliant blog. Hope you can keep it up.

I don't see why you are ashamed to be Japanese, just because of the actions of a few worthless bums. They exist in any society/culture.

the voice in your head said...

It is not just the actions of a few worthless human beings. It is also the inaction of the rest of us, Japanese or not. I am guilty of a certain complacency and was quite naive in regard to the whole nuke industry. I never imagined such lack of standards, negligence, fudged risk assessments, cover ups, blatant lies, ...etc..., in other words, a nuke mafia run by money grubbing fools. Potentially highly hazardous NPPs in the hands of scum! Would events really be any different if these "accidents" happened elsewhere? The nuke industry will try to cover their stinking shit where ever it may be.

DD said...

Thanks for relating this very sad story.

Anonymous said...

Robbie001 sez:

I have to agree, the nuclear industry is a monolithic entity based entirely on secrecy and obfuscation. This is the same for every nuclear nation. If people are disturbed by the tip of the iceberg they are seeing just imagine how upset they would be if they knew the whole actual story? Too bad wikileaks didn't include internal nuclear industry memos addressing all their privately acknowledge shortcomings.

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