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Anonymous Workers at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant Blast Government, TEPCO, Speak of Radiation Dangers at the Plant: “It’s Yakuza and Rank Amateurs at the Plant”

(Reposted from )

Fukushima yakuza rank amateursShukan Gendai weekly magazine online has an article featuring four workers at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant telling the magazine that it’s yakuza-and-rank-amateur hour over there.

Unlike interviews done by foreign media where the plant workers and TEPCO managers reveal their names and face no obvious repercussions, Japanese media almost always quote workers anonymously; Gendai is no exception.

There is no way of proving or disproving what they are saying, and there were in the past some extremely tall tales supposedly coming from the anonymous plant workers (particularly in the first year of the accident). But their comments in the Gendai article are still extremely revealing, and they do put things in a certain perspective (like those dead rats in the switch boxes –  and ).

Toward the end, one worker says, “At this rate, not even yakuza nor amateurs will remain at Fukushima I Nuke Plant。”

Uh oh…

My quick translation (subject to later revision) from  (10/22/2013; part):

(Title) 福島第一原発作業員 緊急座談会「汚染水処理の現場はヤクザとど素人だけになった」

Roundtable of workers at Fukushima I NPP “There are only yakuza and rank amateurs dealing with the contaminated water problems”

作業員B 作業員の士気、相当低いからね。とにかくコロコロ人が替わるから、責任感みたいなものがない。いま一緒に作業しとる仲間の前職は新宿の居酒屋店員、プールの監視員、塾の講師、トラック運転手と、ど素人ばかり。熟練さんがおらん。

Worker B: Morale of the workers are very low. Turnover is very high, and there is no commitment to the job. People whom I’m working with right now are a former worker at a pub in Shinjuku, a life guard at a swimming pool, a cram school teacher, a truck driver. In other words, rank amateurs. There is no skilled worker.

作業員B 現場でも東電が作業員に直接指示を出すことは、ほとんどない。あっても「早くしろ」「時間がない」くらいやね。こないだ安倍さんが視察に来たけど、ホンマ、大迷惑でした。というのも「安倍さんに汚いところを見せられない。ガレキを片付けろ!」と東電に言われ、1週間もかけて現場の掃除をやらされたんです。掃除で作業が滞るというアホらしさ。安倍さんが見たのはほんとのイチエフ(福島第一原発)の姿やないですよ(笑)。

Worker B: It is rare that TEPCO orders workers directly at the plant. When they do, it is nothing more than “Hurry up” or “We’re running out of time”. Mr. Abe came to the plant the other day, and that was a major headache for us. TEPCO ordered us to clean the site for one week, because “We can’t let Prime Minister Abe see the dirty site. Clear the debris!” It was stupid. Because of the cleanup job, the work at the plant was delayed. What Mr. Abe saw was not the real Ichi-F [F1, Fukushima I NPP].

大发体育作業員D 汚染水タンクの配管も、どれだけ傷んでいるか想像もつかないですよね。とにかく「急げ、急げ」と急かされて作ったから、純正品ではなく、既製品を組み合わせている。

Worker D: I have no idea how damaged the pipes for the contaminated water storage tanks are. They were built in a great hurry, and they are not genuine products but off-the-shelf products.

作業員C 汚染水タンクの設置当初から水漏れは懸念されていましたけど、そうした声は東電に伝わらない。東電はタンクをパトロールしていると言ってますが、1000基あるタンクを二人で2~3時間で見るわけでしょ? 長く見積もっても1基あたり30秒弱。連結部分は数万ヵ所あるわけで、とてもチェックできない。

Worker C: From the time when the contaminated water storage tanks were first installed, people have been worried about leaks. But those worries don’t reach TEPCO. TEPCO says they are patrolling the tank areas, but 1,000 tanks per two workers in 2 to 3 hours? At most, less than 30 seconds per tank. There are tens of thousands of joints, and it is impossible to check them all.

作業員B せんだって、台風が上陸したときなんて、大雨で側溝の水が溢れそうになったので、海に捨てました。流した水の放射線量を測定しなかったことを責められましたが、あえて測定せんのですよ。数値によっては犯罪になってまうから。

Worker B: The other day when a typhoon hit, heavy rain almost caused the water in the drain to overflow. So we released the water into the ocean. We were accused of not measuring the radiation before we released, but there was a reason why we didn’t measure; depending on the result of the measurement it would have been a criminal act.

作業員B でも、福島第一原発には、地雷みたいに、とんでもない高線量のところがまだまだある。原子炉建屋の山側の道を車で走ると、いまもピューッと線量があがりますよ。特に2号機と3号機の間。あそこは加速して突っ切ります。3月にネズミが仮設の配電盤をかじって停電したよね? どこが停電したか、みんなわかっとったけど、線量が高いと有名なところだったから、誰も現場に行きたがらんかった。

Worker B: There are still many locations with extremely high radiation at Fukushima I Nuke Plant, like landmines. When we drive on the road on the mountain-side [west] of the reactor building, the radiation level rises rapidly. Particularly between Reactor 2 and Reactor 3. We put on the gas and drive fast there. Remember the power outage in March, caused by a rat chewing the wires in a temporary switch board? We all knew the location, which was famous [among the workers] for high radiation. No one wanted to go there.

作業員A 熟練作業員の不足は深刻。素人が10人いるより、技術を持った一人のほうが仕事は捗る。震災後、原発作業員の年間被曝量の上限が50から250ミリシーベルトに上げられたけど、福島第一原発ではそれでもすぐ、被曝限度を喰ってしまって、働けなくなる。熟練工は『高線量部隊』と呼ばれる、原発により近い現場で働くので、だいたい1~2週間で限度オーバーになってしまう。

Worker A: Lack of skilled workers is very serious. More work gets done by one skilled worker than by 10 amateurs. After the March 11, 2011 disaster, the upper limit of annual radiation exposure for nuclear plant workers was raised from 50 millisieverts to 250 millisieverts. But at Fukushima I Nuke Plant, workers reach the limit very quickly and cannot work any more. The skilled workers are called “high radiation corps”. They work closer to the reactors, and they exceed the limit in one to two weeks.

作業員C 作業員には通いと泊まりがありますが、小さい下請けに入ってしまうと、16時間も拘束されることがある。長時間労働、低賃金、残業手当なしの世界。

Worker C: There are workers who commute, and there are those who stay in dorms. At a small subcontractor, the total hours spent at work may be 16 hours. Long hours, low pay, no overtime benefit.

作業員B ウチの会社はプレハブの寮に住んでいる人が多いかな。事故直後は地元の温泉街の宿やったから、ランクは相当落ちた。それにこの寮というのが、メシがまずくてね。「東電が全然、お金をかけてくれない」って食堂のオバちゃんが嘆いてた。

Worker B: At my company, many live in the prefab dorm. Right after the start of the accident, we got to stay at a local onsen [hot spring] resort. So it’s been downgraded significantly. On top of that, the food at this dorm is awful. “TEPCO is not giving us any money [for better food],” says the aunty in charge of the kitchen.

作業員D ケアの面もどんどん悪くなってます。以前は線量オーバーで離職した人間は、半年か年に1回は人間ドックを受けられたり、無料の健康相談があった。それがいまはよほど高い線量で被曝したケースじゃないと、そういうケアはない。私は最近、すごく風邪をひきやすくなった。過労のせいもあるだろうけど、すごく不安です。

Worker D: The health care is progressively getting worse. Before, those who left work after exceeding the radiation exposure limit used to receive a complete medical checkup once in half year or a year. There was a free health consultation. But now, there is no such care unless your radiation exposure is significantly high. As for myself, I catch cold more often these days. It may be partly because of overwork, but I am very worried.

作業員C 使い捨てにされてる感がありますね。作業員は原発内のプレハブで休憩したり、食事をしたりするんですが、誰がどこで何の作業をしていたか、一切知らされない。僕はそんな作業員たちが着ていたものの廃棄や処分をやるんです。…一番ヒヤリとしたのは、作業中に何かが指に刺さって血が出たとき。トラブルが表沙汰になれば現場責任者も咎められるから、黙ってました。

Worker C: It feels like we are treated as disposable. Workers rest and eat inside the prefab buildings inside the plant, but we’re not told who did what where. I am in charge of disposing the clothing of the workers. I was most scared when my finger bled when it caught something [in the clothing]. If I spoke up about the problem the site manager would be in trouble. So I kept quiet.

作業員B 汚染水処理にしたって、いまはそれを最優先にしているけど、肝心の汚染水を流すホースさえ、事故当時のまま使っているから、劣化が激しく、あちらこちらから水漏れする有り様。原子炉建屋もボロボロのまま。満身創痍ですわ。3号機なんていまも、原子炉の中がどうなってるかわからないですからね。放射線量が高すぎて、ロボットも入れない。

Worker B: Take contaminated water processing. It is given the high priority now, but the hoses used to transfer contaminated water have been used since the start of the accident. They have deteriorated much, and leaking. Reactor buildings remain tattered. It’s like being covered with wounds all over the body. We still don’t know what is like inside the reactor at Unit 3. Radiation is too high, and not even a robot can enter.

作業員A 東京オリンピック招致に際して、安倍首相が「状況はコントロールできている」と安全宣言したけど、あれはどこの話なんですかね。それどころか、ゼネコンが集めてくる作業員たちはいずれオリンピック関連工事に取られると思う。安倍は無責任すぎるよ。

Worker A: To win 2020 Olympic to Tokyo, Prime Minister Abe made a safety declaration that “situation is under control”. What is he talking about? On the contrary, I think workers hired by major construction companies will eventually be diverted to construction projects related to the Olympic. Abe is too irresponsible.

作業員D もちろん、我々にもやらなくちゃいけないという思いはあるんですが、正直キツい。作業員の数は変わらないのに、仕事は増えていくばかり。トラブルが起きれば、その対応でまた仕事量が増える。キャパシティを超えて、みんな疲れきっています。「汚染水を処理する」ことばかり注目されていますが、現場の感覚からすると、放射性物質を取り除いた低濃度の汚染水を海に流せるように政治の力で話をつけてもらわないと意味がない。処理後の汚染水が貯まる一方で、いまでもタンク工場みたいになっている。

Worker D: Of course we feel we have to do it, but honestly, it is tough. More work for the same number of workers. When there’s a trouble, the work increases further to respond to the trouble. It’s beyond everyone’s capacity, and we are dead tired. Focus has been only on “contaminated water treatment”, but from our perspective at the plant, unless the government makes a political decision so that the low-contamination water after radioactive materials are removed [with the exception of tritium] can be released into the ocean, it is meaningless. Low-contamination water after the treatment keeps accumulating, and the plant looks like a storage tank factory.

作業員B あとは作業員を増やすべき。特に熟練工を福島に戻さんと。

Worker B: And the number of workers should be increased。 In particular, skilled workers should be brought back to Fukushima。

作業員D 東電は、最初は威勢のいいことを言うんです。『お金がかかってもいいから、ちゃんと収束させましょう』と。ところが、実態が伴わない。これから廃炉まで30年も40年もかかるのに、作業員の詰め所はプレハブにクッションシートを敷いた簡素なもの。

Worker D: TEPCO says things like “Let’s restore the plant, no mater how much it may cost,” but that is not accompanied by action [money]. It will take 30, 40 years to decommission, and the workers’ station is a prefab building with filler sheets on the floor.

作業員C 一部の東電の協力会社がバカみたいな安い値段で入札して、イチエフの労働価格のデフレを引き起こしたのも問題。労働者の中には借金などでヤクザに送り込まれた人や食い詰めたヤクザ本人がいる。現場はヤクザとど素人ばかりです……。

Worker C: Some of TEPCO’s affiliate companies put in the bid with ridiculously low price and caused the deflation of labor cost at Fukushima I. Workers include people sent here by yakuzas for their debts and down and out yakuzas themselves. The site is full of yakuzas and rank amateurs…

作業員B 原発に潜入したジャーナリストが「作業員の1割はヤクザ」と本で書いとったけど、たしかにヤクザ者は増えた。刺青入れた作業員にも会ったことあるわ。安く人を派遣して中抜きしたり、単純にシノギとして若い衆を派遣したりしとるんやろね。一方でヤクザに頼りでもしないと、人が集まらんのも事実。

Worker B: A journalist who smuggled himself into the plant wrote in his book that “10% of workers are yakuza”. I do see more yakuzas. I have met workers with tattoo. They may be sending cheap workers and skimming the wages, or sending young yakuzas simply as means to make money. On the other hand, it’s a fact that they can’t secure workers unless they rely on yakuza.

作業員D そもそも事故対策を考えてなかった会社に事故対応をやらせることが間違い。しかもプライドは高いから「このままでは無理です」と頭を下げることもできない。汚染水はどんどん増えるのに、作業員はどんどん減っていく。それなのに子ども・被災者支援法はあっても被曝労働者の支援法はないというんだから、そのうち素人もヤクザもイチエフからいなくなってしまいますよ。

Worker D: To begin with, it is a mistake to let a company handle the accident when that company didn’t even have countermeasures in case of an accident. They are too proud to admit they can’t do it under the current condition. Contaminated water keep increasing, workers keep decreasing. There is a law for supporting children and disaster victims, but there is nothing for radiation-exposed workers. Soon, not even yakuza nor amateurs will remain at Fukushima I Nuke Plant.


Worker A: man in his 30s from Kanagawa Prefecture. Volunteered to work at Fukushima I NPP right after the accident.
Worker B: man in his 40s from Osaka Prefecture. Commutes to the plant from his dorm in Iwaki City.
Worker C: man in his 20s from Tokyo. Decided to change his job after being recruited on the street.
Worker D: veteran worker from Fukushima, who have been working at the plant since before the accident


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