NY Times: ‘Shameful’ situation at Fukushima — Tepco “seems unaware of what is happening” — Gov’t must take control of plant — “So little is understood about how to deal with the melted-down reactors”

Saturday, March 22, 2014
By Paul Martin

March 21st, 2014

New York Times Editorial Board, Mar. 21, 2014: Fukushima’s Shameful Cleanup — A pattern of shirking responsibility permeates the decommissioning work at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. An increasing proportion of the 3,000 contract laborers at Fukushima are poorly trained, with little technical expertise or knowledge of radiation. […] Many are destitute, recruited by ruthless labor brokers, some with ties to the mob. And the laborers are tossed out once they are exposed to the legal radiation limit. […] [Tepco] seems unaware of what is happening on the ground. […] The subcontracting system […] is dangerous in the continuing emergency at Fukushima. Moreover, it is questionable whether Tepco is even capable of cleaning up radioactive material, controlling contaminated water and decommissioning melted-down reactors. These are tasks beyond the abilities and expertise of an electric power company. […] The government kept Tepco afloat to protect shareholders and bank lenders […] This arrangement has conveniently allowed the government to avoid taking responsibility for the nuclear cleanup. […] the current setup is untenable — particularly since so little is understood about how to deal with the melted-down reactors, or how long it will take to end the radiation threat. It is long past time that the government take direct control of the disaster site.

NHK, Mar. 20, 2014: NRA urges TEPCO to focus on Fukushima Daiichi […] NRA Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa said the troubles could have been prevented. He called on TEPCO to place top priority on decommissioning reactors and dealing with radioactive water. He urged the company to spend more money on safety measures at the plant. NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said TEPCO should improve working conditions to ensure the safety of, and maintain morale among, more than 4,000 workers at the plant.

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