Just when WE thought things could not get WORSE at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power station in Japan, we read an article that mentioned the following unsettling circumstances at the site:

  • The job of cleaning up the radioactive mess at Fukushima has found its way into the hands not of TEPCO (Tokyo Electric) employees, but rather a collection of large companies.
  • Those large companies put RFQ’s out on the wire for smaller contract labor companies to bid on.

DX-1 Radiation Monitor, Geiger Counter
DX-1 Radiation Monitor
AKA: Geiger Counter

  • Smaller contract labor companies won the bids despite having no experience working with nuclear materials. “A common complaint: the project’s dependence on a sprawling and little scrutinized network of subcontractors – many of them inexperienced with nuclear work and some of them, police say, have ties to organized crime.”
  • Hundreds of smaller firms have employees working in areas around the mangled nuclear power plant cleaning up radioactive debris, soil and dirt… and TEPCO has gone on record saying it has a hard time monitoring the hiring practices and working conditions brought forth by many of those smaller companies. As stated by one the Fukushima clean up employees, “Even then, his handlers told him, the radiation would be so high it could burn through his annual exposure limit in just under an hour.”
  • TEPCO has recently admitted that the clean up effort has 25% more jobs available than applicants. Those outside the situation believe this may have resulted in clean up firms stepping “… into the gap, recruiting people whose lives have reached a dead end or who have trouble finding a job outside the disaster zone.”
  • Apparently, Japan’s nuclear industry has relied on a group called “nuclear gypsies” for construction of several of its nuclear power plants since possibly the 1970’s… and that members of that same migrant labor force have come around to clean up the Fukushima site.
  • Many of the companies currently involved with the Fukushima clean up effort grandfathered out of legislation requiring screenings and checking of credentials. “… contractors working on decontamination have not been required to disclose information on management or undergo any screening.”
  • Rumors of Yakuza (Japan’s dominant crime syndicate) involvement with a number of the contract labor companies involved in the clean up project have surfaced.

Not so sure about YOU, but we see a NUCLEAR problem with this mess. Pun intended.

Given the potential ramifications for the Pacific Ocean if the Fukushima site does not get cleaned up quickly and properly, and of the plant not correctly getting shut down to safe levels in a timely and safe manner, one would think that the rest of the world would pressure the Japanese Government into taking action to organize the rat’s nest of contractors at the site.

But, as the article we read said about the use of contract labor in Japan, “There’s been a century of tradition of big Japanese companies using contractors, and that’s just the way it in Japan.”

For more details on the situation, because we certainly could not have included them all in this simple article, we suggest reading the source article on Yahoo.

Moral of the story?

As we stated several times in the past, we suggest bringing a Geiger counter with you the next time you go out for sushi!