Until the Fukushima accident, Japan had 55 operating nuclear reactors as well as enrichment and reprocessing plants which had suffered a series of deadly accidents at its nuclear facilities resulting in the deaths of workers and releases of radioactivity into the environment and surrounding communities. Since the Fukushima disaster, there is growing opposition against re-opening those reactors closed for maintenance.



Tepco liable for contract workers' safety in Fukushima

Less than 10 percent of the work at this nuclear power plant is conducted by those directly employed by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco). Over 90 percent is done by employees of subcontractors, sub-subcontractors and contractors several times removed. These workers come from a wide range of backgrounds, including some who gave up jobs in local agriculture or fishing, farmers and fishermen who work at the plants during the off-season, day laborers and former coal miners. Some have complicated stories to tell, or not to tell.

Few other workplaces require no experience or skill, and fewer still guarantee anonymity to those hoping to hide their background. Nuclear power firms also benefit from the weak position of such individuals since they are largely spared the obligations of most employers to protect the health and safety of each worker on-site. Japan Times

See also the related story posted here.



Greg Palast: "Fukushima: They Knew"

Investigative reporter Greg PalastFrom Shoreham nuclear power plant on Long Island, NY in 1986, to Fukushima Daiichi, Japan, in 2011, investigative reporter Greg Palast (photo left) documents that "they knew" that atomic reactor seismic qualifications were not up to real world risks. See Palast's article, "Fukushima: They Knew," here.


Hibakusa doctor who survived Hiroshima sees health similarities from Fukushima

Shuntaro Hida, a 95-year old retired doctor who was serving as an army doctor in Hiroshima when the American atomic bomb was dropped on that city, is observing health symptoms in residents around Fukushima Daiichi that are similar to those of bomb survivors. Hida has been giving lectures and interviews to make the public aware of the danger of inhaling, drinking or eating radioactive substances. But now he is receiving calls from people around Fukushima complaining of fatigue, diarrhea and hair loss. "I am worried because I received such calls much earlier than I expected," Hida said. More.


Protesters demonstrate against nuclear power plants at Japan's parliament

Tens of thousands of people protested against nuclear power plants outside Japan's parliament on Sunday.

The protesters, including pensioners, were pressed up against a wall of steel thrown around the parliament building. Some broke through the barriers and spilled onto the streets, forcing the police to bring in reinforcements and deploy armoured buses to buttress the main parliament gate.

Energy policy has become a major headache for prime minister, Yoshihiko Noda. Weekly protests outside the PM's office have grown in size in recent months, with ordinary workers and mothers with children joining the crowds. The Guardian

The protest was the latest in a series of peaceful demonstrations on a scale not seen in the nation for decades since the Fukushima crisis gave rise to fears of another nuclear disaster. Associated Press


TEPCO subcontractor used lead to fake dosimeter readings at Fukushima plant

replica of lead plate used to shield radiation badges of Fukushima workers during the catastrophe, thus falsifying dosesWorkers at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant were ordered to cover their dosimeters with lead plates to keep radiation doses low enough to continue working under dangerous conditions, the Asahi Shimbun has learned.

Some refused the orders. Others raised questions about their safety and the legality of the practice. But the man in charge, a senior official of a subcontractor of Tokyo Electric Power Co., warned them that they would lose their jobs--and any chance of employment at other nuclear plants--if they failed to comply. Asahi Shimbun

See also Ministry to search for dosimeter shields at Fukushima plant

Officials of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry will search for lead plates that workers at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant used to shield their dosimeters and later discarded on the plant grounds.