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Absolutely No Progress Being Made at Fukushima Nuke Plant ,Undercover Reporter Says, Dec 16

Absolutely No Progress Being Made at Fukushima Nuke Plant ,Undercover Reporter Says, Dec 16

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Published by: DeeanaF on Jun 25, 2012
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'Absolutely no progress being made' at Fukushimanuke plant, undercover reporter says 
Tomohiko Suzuki shows reporters a watch with a pinhole camera on Dec. 15 at the ForeignCorrespondents' Club of Japan. He used the watch to photograph the inside of the Fukushima No. 1nuclear plant while working undercover there in July and August. (Mainichi)
 Conditions at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant are far worse than itsoperator or the government has admitted, according to freelance journalist Tomohiko Suzuki,who spent more than a month working undercover at the power station. "Absolutely no progress is being made" towards the final resolution of the crisis, Suzuki toldreporters at a Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan news conference on Dec. 15. Suzuki,55, worked for a Toshiba Corp. subsidiary as a general laborer there from July 13 to Aug. 22,documenting sloppy repair work, companies including plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co.(TEPCO) playing fast and loose with their workers' radiation doses, and a marked concern for appearances over the safety of employees or the public. For example, the no-entry zones around the plant -- the 20-kilometer radius exclusion zone andthe extension covering most of the village of Iitate and other municipalities -- have more to dowith convenience that actual safety, Suzuki says. "(Nuclear) technology experts I've spoken to say that there are people living in areas where noone should be. It's almost as though they're living inside a nuclear plant," says Suzuki. Basedon this and his own radiation readings, he believes the 80-kilometer-radius evacuation advisoryissued by the United States government after the meltdowns was "about right," adding thatthe government probably decided on the current no-go zones to avoid the immense task of evacuating larger cities like Iwaki and Fukushima. The situation at the plant itself is no better, where he says much of the work is simply "for show," fraught with corporate jealousies and secretiveness and "completely different" fromthe "all-Japan" cooperative effort being presented by the government. "Reactor makers Toshiba and Hitachi (brought in to help resolve the crisis) each have their owntechnology, and they don't talk to each other. Toshiba doesn't tell Hitachi what it's doing, andHitachi doesn't tell Toshiba what it's doing." Meanwhile, despite there being no concrete data on the state of the reactor cores, claims by thegovernment and TEPCO that the disaster is under control and that the reactors are on-schedulefor a cold shutdown by the year's end have promoted a breakneck work schedule, leading toshoddy repairs and habitual disregard for worker safety, he said. "Working at Fukushima is equivalent to being given an order to die," Suzuki quoted one nuclear-related company source as saying. He says plant workers regularly manipulate their radiation
readings by reversing their dosimeters or putting them in their socks, giving them an extra 10to 30 minutes on-site before they reach their daily dosage limit. In extreme cases, Suzuki said,workers even leave the radiation meters in their dormitories.  According to Suzuki, TEPCO and the subcontractors at the plant never explicitly tell the workersto take these measures. Instead the workers are simply assigned projects that would beimpossible to complete on time without manipulating the dosage numbers, and whether througha sense of duty or fear of being fired, the workers never complain. Furthermore, the daily radiation screenings are "essentially an act," with the detector passed tooquickly over each worker, while "the line to the buzzer that is supposed to sound when there's aproblem has been cut," Suzuki said. Meanwhile much of the work -- like road repairs -- is purely cosmetic, and projects directlyrelated to cleaning up the crisis such as decontaminating water -- which Suzuki was involvedin -- are rife with cut corners, including the use of plastic piping likely to freeze and crack in thewinter. "We are seeing many problems stemming from the shoddy, rushed work at the power plant,"Suzuki says. Despite the lack of progress and cavalier attitude to safety, Suzuki claims the cold shutdownschedule has essentially choked off any new ideas. The crisis is officially under control and thebudget for dealing with it has been cut drastically, and many Hitachi and Toshiba engineers thathave presented new solutions have been told there is simply no money to try them. In sum, Suzuki says what he saw (and photographed with a pinhole camera hidden in hiswatch) proves the real work to overcome the Fukushima disaster "is just beginning." He lost hisown inside look at that work after it was discovered he was a journalist, though officially he wasfired because his commute to work was too long. "The Japanese media have turned away from this issue," he laments, though the story is far from over. (By Robert Irvine, Staff Writer) (Mainichi Japan) December 16, 2011http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20111216p2a00m0na002000c.html https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/304024_281153988564475_100000096283332_1233813_451144126_n.jpg 
Noda to declare "cold shutdown" of reactors
 Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will declare on Friday that the crippled reactors at theFukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are in a state of cold shutdown. The government and Tokyo Electric Power Company are working to bring the Fukushima plantunder control according to a timetable they created. In October, they set the target of achievingthe second phase of the timeframe within the year. The government says the requirements have been met and it can declare the second phase iscomplete. It says temperatures at the bottoms of reactor pressure vessels and the inside of thecontainment vessels basically stay under 100 degrees Celsius. It also says the amounts of radioactive substances emitted from the plant have been curbedto the extent that radiation levels at the periphery of the plant remain below one millisievert per year.  At a nuclear disaster task force meeting scheduled for Friday, all Cabinet ministers willrecognize that the second phase has been completed. Afterward, Prime Minister Noda plans toofficially state that the damaged reactors are in a state of cold shutdown. Now that the reactors are stable, the government plans to fully review the no-go zones andevacuation advisory areas set up after the nuclear accident. Those evacuation areas still have locations where radiation levels are so high that residents willnot be able to return home for an extended period. Nuclear crisis minister Goshi Hosono plans to visit disaster-hit areas over this weekend todiscuss with municipal leaders how to handle the evacuation zones. Friday, December 16, 2011 07:57 +0900 (JST) 

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