Post-Fukushima – Lack of “safety culture” the legacy of nuclear disaster

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The events in Japan one year after the Fukushima nuclear disaster are so overwhelming it’s hard to put it in words or pictures.  The ground around the Fukushima Daiichi reactor buildings is still littered with mangled trucks, twisted metal beams and broken building frames.  Japan’s year-long struggle to stabilize the Fukushima nuclear power plant after it was damaged by an earthquake and tsunami has prompted a rethink about atomic power worldwide with some countries putting plans worth billions of dollars on hold.

TEPCO President Toshio Nishizawa has no plan to speak directly to the media on the first anniversary of the Great Tohoku earthquake and Fukushima nuclear disaster.  Japanese authorities and regulators have been repeatedly criticized for how they have handled information amid the unfolding nuclear crisis.   No one knows precisely what has happened inside the reactors and where the melted nuclear fuel is located, which means there is still great uncertainty over the situation at the complex.

To some of the men who earn as little as $100 a day to work inside Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi, the plant at the center of a year-old nuclear disaster is far from safe — despite the official line. Many with experience in the industry shy away from the plant.  “Those who used to work at the Fukushima nuclear plant for a long time do not go to Daiichi because it’s dangerous,” one worker told the Tokyo Shimbun. “Payment is not good and many of them do not want to lose their jobs by risking exposure to high levels of radiation,” the worker said.There have been deaths on site, although TEPCO says none related to radiation exposure.   Chie Hosoda, a spokeswoman for the utility, admits conditions at the plant were unacceptable in the past, with the radiation exposure of some workers left unmeasured because of a shortage of dosimeters.

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