"You flip the dosimeter, wear it on the shoulder, wear it inside the sock, whatever it takes to lower the dosage displayed and work longer in high radiation areas. TEPCO doesn't specifically order the workers to do this, but to complete the work within the manpower, budget and the work specification given by TEPCO there is no other choice. So the workers are supposed to be doing this voluntarily, and when a problem arises they can say the workers did it on their own."
Tomohiko Suzuki is a journalist who managed to sneak into Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant as a temporary worker from July 13 to August 22 this summer to find out what it was really like. He fitted himself with a 007-like pin-hole wristwatch camera and took photos. He was finally caught and dismissed when the plant management got suspicious of him, because he was always on the front-row seat taking copious notes during the lectures given at the plant, he said.
The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan invited him to give a talk on December 15 about his experience and his observations, as his new book "ヤクザと原発 福島第一潜入記 (Nuke Plant and Yakuza - Infiltrating Fukushima I Nuke Plant)" is published.
The picture he paints is decidedly not as innocent-looking like that of the other plant workers who regularly tweets about their work and life inside the plant.
The following is my partial translation of Suzuki's talk, as it was summarized on BLOGOS. If you understand Japanese, the entire talk (nearly 2 hours) is available on Youtube, here. It looks worth watching, and it has the video Suzuki took inside the plant.
Situation in Fukushima: No hope
原子力発電の是非はともかく、福島第一原発の現状は、はっきり言ってアウトの状態です。アメリカ軍が当初避難区域を80キロに設定しましたが、それが正し かったと思っています。数値を実測すると福島の中通りあたりは線量も高く、汚染もひどく、完全に管理区域です。一般人の立ち入りを禁止すべき場所です。に も関わらず、日本の基準はいわき市、福島市、郡山市の大都市を避難させないという前提の下で20キロに引かれたものであろうと思います。僕の取材した、全 ての原子力関係の技術者は、「本来は住んではいけない場所に住んでいる」「原発の中で生活しているのと同じ」と言っています。
Setting aside the issue of whether nuclear power generation should continue, the situation of Fukushima I Nuclear Power plant is, bluntly speaking, out [as in baseball]. The US military initially set the evacuation zone at 80 kilometer radius, and I think that was the right decision. When you measure the radiation levels, Nakadori of Fukushima Prefecture [middle third] has high radiation and bad contamination, totally the level of a radiation control zone where the entry of the general public should be banned. But I believe the Japanese evacuation zone was set at 20 kilometer radius, in order not to evacuate [people living in] big cities like Iwaki City, Fukushima City and Koriyama City. All the nuclear engineers that I have interviewed say "People are living in the areas that they shouldn't be living in", and "It is the same as living inside a nuclear power plant".
Much-touted "all-Japan" cooperation inside the plant: Where is it?
Hitachi and Toshiba are both working inside Fukushima I Nuke Plant. But what Hitachi is doing is not disclosed to Toshiba, and what Toshiba is doing is not disclosed to Hitachi. They deal with issues on their own. They would make more progress if they cooperated.
Makeshift work to cool the reactors:
This is the latest information. The government did the makeshift construction trying to hasten a cold shutdown. For example, many of the pipes for the contaminated water are plastic, with temporary connections. They have short life, and there is a danger of freezing. Right now, they are doing their best to clean up the mess resulting from the makeshift jobs.
原子炉が福島第一原発には6基あって、建屋が4つありますが、全てにおいて、正確なデータが取れておりません。今回ＩＨＩがようやく、2号機の確認に入る らしいですが、それでも原子炉内のペレットがどうなってるかわからないでしょう。とりあえず道路を直して、水で冷やしているのが実態。今後のメンテを考え ると、とても不安。
There are 6 reactors and 4 reactor buildings [that are damaged?] at Fukushima I Nuke Plant, and they don't have accurate data on any of them. I hear that IHI will finally enter the Reactor 2 building, but there is no knowing of what has happened to the fuel pellets inside the reactor. The reality is, all they could do is to repair the roads and cool the reactors. I am very fearful of what may happen, when I think about the future maintenance work.
About information coming from TEPCO: Reporters have to know what to ask
You, as foreign media correspondents, may have mistrust against the Japanese government and TEPCO. But not all the information from TEPCO is a lie. TEPCO answers the questions tailored to the level of knowledge of the questioner. So please, as journalists, study nuclear energy and be armed with knowledge and draw information out of TEPCO.
I agree with his assessment of TEPCO. I was watching TEPCO's press conference in March, and at that time then-Vice President Muto was on hand to answer questions. I had a distinct feeling that he was extremely bright, and was not answering the questions unless the questions were intelligent enough for him to offer new information. It was not that he was evading or lying; he was simply not offering information to people who he deemed wouldn't understand anyway. Not so about the current spokesman, who can lie through his teeth without thinking anything of it.
About how to "fake" radiation exposure:
This may be an extreme argument, but the Japanese nuclear industry is built on injustice [or illegality]. It is built on workers forced to get exposed to radiation. Officially they are not exposed to radiation, but for example, workers put on dosimeters on their breasts when the enter high radiation areas.
There is a front side and back side to a dosimeter. Just by flipping the dosimeter inside the breast pocket, a worker can work 10 more minutes. When the high radiation area is above him, a worker puts his dosimeter in one of his socks. Then he can work 30 more minutes. If the work is on the reactor and the high radiation area is below him, a worker wears his dosimeter on the shoulder.
TEPCO doesn't specifically order the workers to do this, but to complete the work within the manpower, budget and the work specification given by TEPCO there is no other choice. So the workers are supposed to be doing this voluntarily, and when a problem arises they can say the workers did it on their own.
Plausible deniability. Traditional Japanese way. Flipping the dosimeter to lower the radiation dosage may be in the second set of work manuals. It may not be written but everybody knows. The management (TEPCO) knows but doesn't say a word as it is not supposed to know.
"I know that you know that I know. But let's not talk about it."
(One more post to follow on Suzuki's talk.)