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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise

Overworked and overdosed



January 14, 2013


Worker shortages revealed at nuclear plant after disaster

A manager's calls for reinforcements to help contain a series of crises at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant were ignored, newly released TEPCO teleconference footage has revealed.

Although Masao Yoshida, then manager of the plant damaged by the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami, repeatedly asked TEPCO headquarters in Tokyo to send more workers, the request was not met in a timely manner. As a result, the plant's workers suffered extreme fatigue and heightened radiation exposure, the footage showed.

On the morning of March 16, 2011, five days after the start of the crisis, the plant reported to headquarters that it had 177 TEPCO employees and four workers on staff from TEPCO partner companies.

Hydrogen explosions occurred at the No. 1 reactor building on March 12, at the No. 3 reactor building on March 14 and the No. 4 reactor building on March 15.

As the condition of the No. 2 reactor continued to deteriorate, many workers had already been evacuated, with only about 70 remaining.

The number of workers then started to recover, but Yoshida continued to feel there were shortages in manpower.

"Don't expect extra workers from the plant." This was the reply Yoshida gave when asked by the headquarters to provide workers as drivers for vehicles to transport equipment to fix a motor and power panels flooded with seawater.

In the early morning of March 17, Yoshida asked the headquarters to realize there was a limited number of workers at the plant to carry out operations to bring the nuclear crisis under control.

The next morning, his patience finally ran out. "I can no longer force my employees to continue working," Yoshida declared, saying many of them had received high doses of radiation.


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