Friday, July 20, 2012

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Subcontractor in Namie-machi Told Its Workers to Use Lead Casing Over their Dosimeters to Protect Radiation "Allowance"

Mr. Tomohiko Suzuki, journalist who went to work at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant last year to report how it really was in the plant, said the workers use a variety of ways to lower (i.e. fake) the radiation exposure as measured by their dosimeters. One of the ways is to simply hand the dosimeter to a person who is not entering the high-radiation areas; another way is to flip the dosimeter in the pocket so that it won't measure radiation as much.

Here's a new one, decidedly more effective. A subcontractor in Namie-machi, Fukushima who contracts work from one of the 1st-tier TEPCO subcontractors supposedly told its workers to cover their dosimeters with lead plates when working at the plant last year.

Asahi Shinbun reveals in the article below (7/21/2012) that the paper obtained the recording of the company's executive telling workers to do so:

線量計に鉛板、東電下請けが指示 原発作業で被曝偽装

Lead plate on dosimeter, a TEPCO subcontractor instructed the workers to fake radiation exposure at the plant


It has been revealed that a senior executive of a subcontractor instructed its workers to cover their dosimeters with lead plates several millimeters thick for the work ordered by TEPCO for the restoration of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant last December. It was done to disguise the radiation exposure levels of the workers, whose upper limit is set by the regulations. More than one worker has admitted to Asahi Shinbun that they worked with the lead cover over their dosimeters. The senior executive denies that he ever instructed the workers and that the lead cover was used.


Asahi Shinbun has obtained the recording that shows a senior executive (age 54) of the subcontractor "Build Up", which is a medium-sized construction company in Fukushima Prefecture. The exchange between the executive and the workers took place at night on December 2 last year, at a ryokan [Japanese-style hotel, inn] in Iwaki City in Fukushima where the workers were staying. One of the workers recorded the exchange with his cellphone.


On the previous day, the executive had told the team of 10 workers to cover their pocket-sized dosimeter "APD" with lead cover. 3 workers had refused. So on the night of December 2 a talk was held between the company [the executive] and the 3 workers. The executive denies what's in the recording, but more than one worker who were at the scene confirms the facts.

Asahi's subscriber-only section has the actual transcript of the conversation that took place between the executive and the workers. Two additional articles (also subscriber-only) give the detailed background that led to this request. Reading them, I just feel sorry for the executive and the workers.

The company was contracted to put insulation around the pipes near Reactors 1, 2, 3 and 4 that carry contaminated water from the turbine buildings, so that the pipes wouldn't rupture or leak from the freeze.

From the transcript of the recording (Asahi articles here and here, subscription-only; you can subscribe for free and read up to three articles per day):

わかりやすいように説明すると、年間50ミリシーベルトまでいいですよっていうのは、原発やってる人はみんな知ってるんだわな。で、これは、50ミリシーベルトっていうのは各個人の線量。で、俺らみたいな年間通して原発で働く人は、50ミリっていうのは50ミリだから。いっぱい線量浴びちゃうと、年間なんてもたないわけよ、はっきり言って。3カ月、4カ月でなくなっちゃうのよ、50ミリなんて。 だから、自分で自分の線量を守んないと、1年間原発で生活していけないのよ。原発の仕事でぎねがったら、もうその場でどっかで働くかっていうわけにはいかねえんだから。俺ら何十年もやってっから、原発ばっかり。だから、自分の線量を守るためにどうするっていうごどでやってるわけ

To explain it to you simply, everyone working for a nuke plant knows it is OK to be exposed up to 50 millisieverts per year. This 50 millisieverts limit is for each person. Then, for people like us, who work at the nuke plant all year round, 50 millisieverts is 50 millisieverts, and if we're exposed to too much radiation it won't last a year, frankly. [50 millisieverts] is up in 3, 4 months. So, unless we protect our own radiation exposure limit we cannot work at the plant and earn our living for one year. If we can't work at the plant, we don't have any other work. We've been working at the nuke plant for decades. Only at the nuke plant. So the thing is how we protect our radiation exposure [allowance].

線量がなくなったら生活していけねえんだ。わかる? 50ミリがどんどん目減りしていくわけだから

If this radiation [allowance] is depleted, we can't earn our living. Do you understand? 50 millisieverts will just decrease.


I'm fully aware that we shouldn't be doing this. I'm not forcing anyone who doesn't want to do it.


When one of the workers said "I think it is almost a crime", the senior executive countered:

 「私、無理押しした? 自分のために納得してやってもらえるんだったらやってください、ということなの。俺は自分の線量を守りたいからやるよ」

Have I forced you to do it? All I'm saying is if you understand the situation and willingly do it for yourself, then please do it. I will do it because I want to protect my radiation [allowance].


If we don't shield [the radiation] with lead, we will lose our radiation [allowance] and there will be no more work.

It looks these three workers had never worked at any nuclear power plant until they started working for this contractor. The senior executive at one point told them:

だから、よそでやれる人はいいよ。別にそんなことしなくったって。でしょ? ちょこっと来てやって。あと原発の仕事なんかする必要ねえと思ってる人、ね? だけど、俺らは年間通してずっとやってる。1年、2年、3年と継続してやってるわけだから、ドンドン累積されっちゃうと、原発の仕事できなくなっちゃうよ。

As I said, people who can work outside nuclear plants are OK. Don't need to do it, right? Those people who come to work for a short time and no need to work at a nuke plant afterwards. But we've been working all year round. One year, two years, three years, we work continuously [at the nuke plant]. If radiation exposure accumulates we cannot work at the nuke plant.

Some Japanese bloggers are accusing the subcontractor and this executive for forcing the workers to fake the radiation exposure (even if it was technically a non-enforceable "request").

According to NHK News who reported on the same topic, specifically naming the company (which is highly unusual for NHK):


The executive allegedly explained to the president of the company that when he went to survey the location before the work, he was surprised at the alarm of his survey meter sounding off, indicating the rapidly rising radiation levels, that he wanted to make the radiation exposure levels look lower, and that 9 workers used lead covers once.

NHK also says the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Labor is investigating the company.

Two levels removed, TEPCO sits pretty with plausible deniability. TEPCO doesn't force any subcontractors to fake the radiation levels. The subcontractors themselves do, each deciding what is best for the company in order to secure the work for the workers and to get the job done.

No one investigates TEPCO. No one will, as it is now practically owned by the national government.

The nuclear power plants in Japan have been supported by the companies like this Namie-machi subcontractor. Without them, there would have been no nuclear power plant, anywhere in Japan. And now, without them, there will soon be no skilled workers at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. And who is going to decommission all the other nuclear power plants in Japan? Decommissioning the plants cannot happen all at the same time.

PM NOda declared the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident "over" in December last year, soon after these workers insulated the pipes around Reactors 1 through 4, wearing dosimeters covered with lead plates. And his government goes after this subcontractor. What a joke.


Anonymous said...

Murder she wrote....

Atomfritz said...

Now another vital lie of the nuclear industry gets exposed again.

Ordering the employees to turn off dosimeters has been nuclear industry tradition since its beginning at Hanford.
Later then, when the workers get ill, they have only their faked records, and have no chance to get any compensation for their illness and their medical treatment expenses.

Exactly this kind of stuff happened at the cleanup after the 1959 Simi Valley fast breeder meltdown, too.

Here a very interesting article about this accident and its cleanup:

(Thank you Ex-SKF for this very interesting article exposing this vital nuclear industry fraud!)

Atomfritz said...

Here a part of the article I linked to.
Just to show what happens later when cleanup workers start to die away due to cancers and the such:

While visiting the lab last winter, Phil Rutherford, manager of health, safety and radiation services for the Boeing Co., said he showed Pace his “dosimetry report,” which documents how much radiation a person has been exposed to. Pace’s report showed “a minor level of exposure.”

Pace said that several years ago he heard there was such a report, but he puts no faith in it because the records are incomplete, because some were lost and workers’ exposure wasn’t always recorded because film badges weren’t always worn.

“We didn’t wear our badges there all the time,” Pace said, adding that supervisors would tell the workers not to wear them. “That’s what they wanted.”

Pace said he understands that officials today are limited in their understanding of what happened to the documents available to them.

“I have no ill feelings towards them because they were not there,” Pace said of officials today. “They can only go on the records they have.”

He said he was motivated to speak up to add to the public’s knowledge about the events, which some researchers have blamed for possibly hundreds of cancer cases among workers and people who lived near the hill.

“It’s a cleansing feeling to get it out of you and be able to speak about it,” Pace said. “It relieves a lot of pressure, but it’s a scary thing also.”

Anonymous said...

At least one German speaking newspaper ( ) is covering this story from Asahi (incl link). The more people hear about it the better.

Anonymous said...

This also happened at the Canadian Chalk River NRX/NRU accidents. The plant operators didn't participate in the clean up very much because it would have burned up their lifetime exposure limit making it impossible to do the job they were trained for. Instead the US and Canadian military was enlisted to do the real dirty work. This allowed TPTB to claim low exposure rates in the entire clean up crew by extrapolating the barely exposed plant employees exposure to the entire group.

When asked whether Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) had ever done a medical follow-up of the more than 600 men involved in the NRU cleanup, the same AECL representatives replied that such an action was considered unnecessary because of the low radiation exposures. They remarked that six hundred was too small a number to be of any statistical significance.

kintaman said...

Stop fear mongering! TEPCO is only doing this to prevent panic. Can’t you see that TEPCO is trying to do a good thing here? Please eat food from Tohoku and go swimming in Fukushima. It is all safe, anyone who says otherwise is a crazy tinfoil hat person.

Anonymous said...

If I recall correctly the legal lifetime limit for workers was 100 mSv, beyond that you need to move to non-rad work.
100mSv is the exposure beyond which there is scientific consensus that risk of cancer increases, whereas below 100 only some reasarch finds risk to be increasing.
Faking exposure readings is yet another way to have someone other than Tepco and its investors pay for the Fukushima accident.

Anonymous said...


Tens of people can't be wrong.

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