One of the workers from the early days of the Fukushima nuclear crisis last year has filed a legal complaint against Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the utility that operates the tsunami-hit power plant, stating that the company sent in crews without proper protection or warning them about the risks of exposure to high levels of radiation. Speaking to the press on the condition that he only be identified by his given name, Shinichi, the former contract worker says TEPCO’s actions directly led to injuries.
The 46 year old says he and his six-member team were sent into the flooded basement of the Unit 3 turbine, only 10 days after the reactor exploded, in order to lay electric cables. He says they waded steaming radioactive water that even felt warm through their work boots. Upon finding out later how terrible the situation was, he adds that it was completely outrageous people were sent into such an environment. Shinichi says TEPCO knew there had been water leaks in other parts of the nuclear plant, but never informed the crew. Incredibly, TEPCO spokesman Yoshimi Hitosugi speaks in defense stating that they couldn’t anticipate water in the Unit 3 basement, even though they knew of water leaks in other locations.
The amount of radiation exposure Shinichi received that single day was more than half the government’s yearly limits, and he was forced to stop working at the Fukushima plant soon after. He filed his complaints this week with the Tokyo labor standards office, requesting authorities to investigate the safety violations of TEPCO, and issue punishments of either six months in jail or fine of ¥500,000 (approx. $6,260) under Japan’s Industrial Safety and Health Act.
As of March of this year, Shinichi no longer gets calls for jobs from his direct employer, a subcontractor for TEPCO. He says he and others were knowingly exposed to dangerous levels of radiation, which he then brought home on his clothes and body, potentially putting his wife and child in danger. Tired of the unjust treatment even after his sacrifice, he has finally come forward.[via The Republic]