TEPCO Workers Unmonitored Exposures Likely Occurred

Workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and radiation experts have pointed out flaws in early worker exposure monitoring. This lack of proper monitoring could lead to additional health problems that could go un-monitored due to the lack of documentation.

Workers were wearing chest dosimeters and did not have any sort of additional monitoring for feet, hands or head. Many workers didn’t even have dosimeters during the early days of the disaster. The chest dosimeters. TEPCO’s excuse for not doing initial monitoring was that the gamma levels were initially higher than the beta levels. Yet a number of workers suffered beta burns after stepping in contaminated water. Workers mention they frequently found higher levels in the debris around their feet. One worker quoted in the article says he had numbness in his feet after his work.

At least one expert disagrees with TEPCO’s opinion of the situation:
Ikuro Anzai, a professor emeritus of radiation protection at Ritsumeikan University, says workers at the stricken Fukushima plant must have been exposed to fairly heavy beta ray doses from the start of the nuclear disaster. Radiation monitoring can measure contaminants on the body’s surface but cannot track radiation dosages to the extremities and head. He says the central government and TEPCO should immediately survey the workers’ duties and where they did their jobs to help catch any cancers they may develop early, potentially saving their lives.”

This lack of wider monitoring could cause worker exposure records to look lower than their actual total exposure. This could lead to missed health monitoring or problems in requesting compensation for future injuries.

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