Fukushima News Roundup; December 30, 2013

Reuters put out a special feature story on how the homeless are being recruited to do decontamination work in Fukushima prefecture. It goes on to show the many ways they are exploited and have their wages stolen by corrupt and largely unregulated sub-contractors. Some even end up in debt due to their work. The government failure to regulate this work has meant that a large portion of taxpayer money is falling into the hands of the Yakuza.

NHK is reporting that decontamination workers will be allowed to live in the evacuation zone in certain areas. Additional monitoring of their radiation exposures from living in the evacuation zone will be left up to the same employers exploiting the workers.

Ex-SKF found this recruiting poster promising workers decent wages for seemingly easy work with no mention of radiation exposure. A full translation of the poster is available here.

The Onagawa nuclear plant that received some damage from the 2011 quake and tsunami has applied for restart safety checks. Tohoku Power along with other utilities in Japan are complaining about their increased costs due to owning nuclear plants yet not being able to run them. They still incur operating costs for the idled reactors while having to produce more power through thermal plants that use oil and gas.

Former TEPCO workers and those who worked at Fukushima Daiichi have been gathering donations to provide heat packs and thermal underwear for workers at the plant. They said conditions at the plant were extremely difficult where workers would enter the reactor buildings to escape the cold and had problems doing their work due to the cold. They have raised a portion of their goal and began supplying some of the equipment. Apparently TEPCO and the contractors running the operation are not providing this basic gear to workers. Also mentioned in the article, TEPCO used to operate their own high school to groom future employees.

Toshiba corp is looking to dump a portion of their ownership of Westinghouse nuclear. US based Bechtel is considering buying the stake.

The former head of a major steel company in Japan will take over TEPCO soon as the current head plans to step down.

Sri Lanka found cesium contamination in fish imported from Japan. The readings were only in double digits so they were below the sale ban levels in Japan yet still show noticeable contamination being found. The country also did extensive sea monitoring around their own country. They appear to indicate contamination was found but that they didn’t consider the source to be from Fukushima Daiichi. No actual readings were given.

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