原発作業員 工程表に「人」の支援も

(Mainichi Japan) April 21, 2011
TEPCO should incorporate measures to support workers in nuke plant roadmap
社説:原発作業員 工程表に「人」の支援も

The Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, hit hard by a massive tsunami generated by the March 11 earthquake, has managed to avoid catastrophe thanks to the efforts of workers who are trying hard to place the power station under control.

More than 40 days have passed since the plant was hit by the disaster, and workers' fatigue and stress have certainly reached an alarming level.

It is expected to take six to nine months before the plant can be placed under control, according to a roadmap released earlier this week by its operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO).

However, it is feared that the work will actually take far longer.

Photos taken by remote-controlled robots illustrate severe conditions in the buildings housing the crippled reactors.

Many of the workers are crying out for help.

It is extremely important for TEPCO and the government to step up support for employees who are working hard under such severe conditions.

A doctor who inspected TEPCO employees working at the plant has revealed that they are forced to sleep at a gymnasium attached to the Fukushima No. 2 Nuclear Power Plant after working at the No. 1 plant.

They cannot take a bath everyday and eat mostly canned and instant food.

Furthermore, many of them have been evacuated from their home situated in disaster-hit areas or had their residences damaged, and are mentally distressed.

TEPCO subcontract workers are also engaged in efforts to place the crippled plant under control.

The company should ensure that all its workers have proper food and can take a bath on a daily basis, and that they can receive mental care.

A system should be created to allow workers to receive treatment from mental health specialists.

The severity of the labor that the workers are engaged in while being dressed in sealed-up protective gear is beyond imagination.

The rainy season will begin in June, which will be followed by summer.

An urgent task is to consider how work can be carried out in a suitable manner that reflects the climate and seasons.

It is the job of TEPCO management as well as its task force to implement measures to improve the working environment for the workers.

They must promptly take action before the workers start making demands.

The lack of management's understanding of the working environment at the plant could lead to a blunder or a delay in the work.

Even after TEPCO manages to place the plant under control, it does not mean an end to the work.

It will take many years to decontaminate the facility and remove radioactive substances and fuel from the plant.

Similar work lasted for 14 years following the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant crisis that occurred in the United States in 1979.

It is anticipated the work at the Fukushima plant will take longer.

Considering the need to secure help from skilled workers, it is necessary to monitor the level of radiation exposure.

It must be ensured that all workers carry dosimeters.

If the work is prolonged, the power supplier will be forced to suspend workers at the plant one after another to prevent them from being exposed to radiation in excess of the legal limit, causing a serious shortage of personnel.  作業が長引けば、被ばく量が限度を超える人が続出し、人手が足りなくなることもありうる。

To avoid such a situation, TEPCO must work out a plan on personnel management from a long-term perspective. そうしたことがないよう、長期的視点で計画を立てるべきだ。

It may also have to train new workers.

TEPCO's roadmap only mentions equipment at the plant.

However, it is human resources that will place the plant under control.

Therefore, measures to extend support for workers should be incorporated in the roadmap.

毎日新聞 2011年4月21日 東京朝刊

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