Chernobyl, Chernobyl cleanup, cumbria, cutting safety margins, day laborers, England, epidemiology, Firefighters, forced labor, Fukushima, Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, Fukushima nuclear disaster, Hanford, Japan, Lake Districts, nuclear disaster, nuclear industry, nuclear reactor fires, nuclear reactors, nuclear work, poverty, radioactive waste, Recovery Plan, Russia, Savannah River Nuclear Site, Sellafield, Soviet Union, UK, Ukraine, welfare to work, Windscale, Windscale fire
“Workers hired to decontaminate Fukushima reportedly include migrant workers, asylum seekers and people who are homeless,”… Tens of thousands of workers have been recruited over the past seven years under the decontamination programme. Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare indicates on its website that 46,386 workers were employed in 2016; and the Radiation Worker Central Registration Centre of Japan has indicated that as many as 76,951 decontamination workers were hired in the five-year period up to 2016…” (UN News Release, 16 August 2018)
“Plight of homeless in Fukushima cleanup
Posted:Sun, 29 Dec 2013 23:15:00 -0500 Dec. 30 – Brokers recruit and sell homeless people as workers to clear the site of Japan’s wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant. Ruairidh Villar reports.” http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/USVideoMostWatched/~3/NqZLFWHi8KQ/plight-of-homeless-in-fukushima-cleanup
The US “Recovery Act” paid for around 2500 poor unemployed people to work at Savannah River Nuclear Site in South Carolina. Savannah River Nuclear Site has also been a top “welfare to work” employer. Some workers went to clean up at Hanford nuclear site too with the “Recovery Act” “stimulus” monies.
In Matthew 25, Jesus said: “Most certainly I tell you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me… ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels.” Why should it be the poor, unemployed and homeless who must clean up the nuclear sites? The “least of these”?
During the UK’s Windscale Nuclear disaster, police “volunteered” the back seat rows of the cinema.
At Chernobyl robots could not withstand the high levels of radiation, so men were picked off the streets and forced onto the roof to work, where they received a lifetime dose of radiation in one and a half minutes. They were sent home and forgotten and so their deaths were not counted. Of 800 of those put on the roof, survivors estimate the number of dead (5 years on) at 350, i.e. 44%. Around 600,000 men were drafted from all over the (now former) Soviet Union to clean up around Chernobyl.
“Japan must act urgently to protect tens of thousands of workers who are reportedly being exploited and exposed to toxic nuclear radiation in efforts to clean up the damaged Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Power Station, say three UN human rights experts” (UN News Release, August 16, 2018)
UN News Release:
“Japan: Fukushima clean-up workers, including homeless, at grave risk of exploitation, say UN experts
GENEVA (16 August 2018) – Japan must act urgently to protect tens of thousands of workers who are reportedly being exploited and exposed to toxic nuclear radiation in efforts to clean up the damaged Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Power Station, say three UN human rights experts*.
“Workers hired to decontaminate Fukushima reportedly include migrant workers, asylum seekers and people who are homeless,” said the experts.
“We are deeply concerned about possible exploitation by deception regarding the risks of exposure to radiation, possible coercion into accepting hazardous working conditions because of economic hardships, and the adequacy of training and protective measures.
“We are equally concerned about the impact that exposure to radiation may have on their physical and mental health,” they added.
Contamination of the area and exposure to radiation remains a major hazard for workers trying to make the area safe seven years after the catastrophic nuclear meltdown which followed damage to the power plant from an earthquake and subsequent tsunami.
Tens of thousands of workers have been recruited over the past seven years under the decontamination programme. Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare indicates on its website that 46,386 workers were employed in 2016; and the Radiation Worker Central Registration Centre of Japan has indicated that as many as 76,951 decontamination workers were hired in the five-year period up to 2016.
“The people most at risk of exposure to toxic substances are those most vulnerable to exploitation: the poor, children and women, migrant workers, people with disabilities and older workers. They are often exposed to a myriad of human rights abuses, forced to make the abhorrent choice between their health and income, and their plight is invisible to most consumers and policymakers with the power to change it,” said the experts.
“Detailed reports that the decontamination contracts were granted to several large contractors, and that hundreds of small companies, without relevant experience, were subcontracted, are of concern. These arrangements, together with the use of brokers to recruit a considerable number of the workers, may have created favourable conditions for the abuse and violation of workers’ rights.”
The UN rights experts have engaged in a dialogue with the Government since last year and have taken into account a recent reply to their most recent concerns.
As part of its Universal Periodic Review, Japan recently ”accepted to follow up” on a recommendation from other States to restore radiation levels to those before the disaster to protect the human right to health of pregnant women and children, among several other recommendations. The experts strongly urge the Government to lower the allowable dose of radiation to 1 mSv/year to protect children and women who may become pregnant.
The UN experts remain available to advise on how best to address the ongoing issue of exposure of workers to toxic radiation following a previous response by the Japanese Government, and on the need to strengthen protection for workers.
In September, one of the UN experts, Baskut Tuncak, will present a report to the UN Human Rights Council, calling on States and employers to strengthen protection for workers from exposure to toxic substances, and proposing principles in that regard.
(*) The UN experts: Mr. Baskut Tuncak, Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, Ms. Urmila Bhoola, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences,and Mr. Dainius Puras, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health …Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity…” https://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=23458&LangID=E https://nuclear-news.net/2018/08/17/japan-fukushima-clean-up-workers-including-homeless-at-grave-risk-of-exploitation-say-un-experts/
Americans can expect the same, or worse, than Japan in the event of a major nuclear disaster. The US “Recovery Act” hired approximately 2500 poor unemployed people to clean up the dangerous radioactive mess at the Savannah River Nuclear Site. A lot of the waste was sent to WIPP to make room for foreign nuclear waste. The US budget set aside $1.9 billion in 2016, alone, to import nuclear waste from places like Sweden and Canada, pretending it’s about non-proliferation: http://www.energy.gov/articles/energy-department-presents-fy16-budget-request
People need to start demanding that pro-nuclear politicians go do the dirty work, along with any pro-nuclear ordinary citizens. Enough already of sending the poor, elderly and homeless. Basta! Pro-nuclear? Get moving on down to your local unemployment office or buy your ticket to Japan. Get moving people! If you aren’t willing to go help clean-up WIPP, Savannah River, Hanford, Fukushima, Sellafield, or Chernobyl, then you don’t really want nuclear or you are a damned hypocrite and will rot in hell for being so evil and sending the poor and helpless to die painful deaths.
According to the South Carolina Department of Social Services “Who Hires our Welfare Clients” (ca. 2015) in Aiken County the three biggest employers are Savannah River Nuclear, Amick Farms and McDonalds.
One can but suspect that immigrants were used in WIPP cleanup and then thrown back across the border to Mexico, whether alive or dead. Savannah River Nuclear Site has been, and probably still is, one of the top “welfare to work” employers for several South Carolina counties. Temporary services are also top employers, and some of those workers may be sent to the Savannah River site, as well.
The unemployed from neighboring areas and even the neighboring state of Georgia were rounded up by bus after the 2008 economic crisis, as part of the “Recovery Plan”, to work cleaning up Savannah River Nuclear Site (and probably other sites, like Hanford). They technically were not “forced”. Some few opted out. But, can one speak of choice in such a context? Many who didn’t ever know before, now understand since 2008, how close they are to homelessness. Some became homeless. The homeless have been picked up off the streets of Japan to work at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster site. Some have observed within a couple of years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster begin that there were few homeless left in Japan. Fukushima may have help solve this “problem”.
It would be interesting to know if prisoners currently work at nuclear sites, as they’ve been sources of cheap labor for companies, for some time, in the United States.
The international Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), which can now be fast-tracked in the US, will facilitate bringing in nuclear clean-up workers from all over the world. Forcing people into nuclear work is a long-standing habit in the US, Japan, Russia and even the UK.
According to Neville Ramsden, Health Physicist Windscale (8.28 min), the Police from Windscale Nuclear Facility “had turned up looking for volunteers… And, they decided the best way to get the volunteers was to go to the cinema, and volunteer the back two rows at the show, … as it turned out to push the fuel rods out of the reactor…” Finally Tuohy said that he wanted to use water on the fire. As the narrator notes, the consequences of putting water on a graphite fire could be catastrophic. While there was no explosion, the water didn’t put out the reactor. http://youtu.be/Pfu4hQkKexw Air was then cut off. http://youtu.be/sIKuWW9FUwY
In “Children of Chernobyl” (UK, 1991, Clive Gordon) documentary (3.38 min) http://youtu.be/zGhphEqmrHU it is explained that the radiation on the roof of Chernobyl was enough to kill a man in minutes. The explosion blew the 2,000 tonne steel lid off of the reactor core, covering the roof with fragments of highly radioactive graphite. Since robots could not withstand the high levels of radiation, men were picked off the streets and forced onto the roof to work, where they received a lifetime dose of radiation in one and a half minutes. They were sent home and forgotten and thus their deaths were not counted. Of 800 of those put on the roof, survivors put the number of dead (5 years on) at 350, i.e. 44%. Around 600,000 men were drafted from all over the (now former) Soviet Union to clean up around Chernobyl.
In “Nuclear Ginza” (1995), Part 1, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNq0qyQJ5xs, photography professor Kenji Higuchi states that he stumbled upon the nuclear worker problem 20 years ago (1970s?), as a young photographer. He discusses farmers, fishermen, as well as labourers picked off the streets, of the slums of Osaka and Tokyo, to work in the nuclear industry and exposed to high levels of radiation with insufficient or no monitoring. What struck him is that “All of their stories were the same“. He says that no one can believe that such a thing could happen in Japan, which has been known for the good treatment of its workers. Especially, when the reactors are shut down for fuel reloading, and inspections, lots of temporary workers are needed, who are frequently exposed to high levels of radiation. He found that the workers were often not educated, and sometimes unimaginably poor. Many came from the traditional “untouchable” caste. A man is interviewed who, along with his wife, states that some quit anyway, because they found the double doors weird and suspicious. He said that he stayed, because he made twice as much money for working only 2 hours, and that he trusted the government that it was safe. “Higuchi has documented the struggles of radiation victims and, over a half-century, has written 19 books, including The Truth About Nuclear Plants and Erased Victims.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenji_Higuchi
So, in the context of the ongoing Fukushima nuclear disaster, we should not be surprised by: “Fukushima radiation cleanup: Send in the homeless?” Dec. 31, 2013 http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/Latest-News-Wires/2013/1231/Fukushima-radiation-cleanup-Send-in-the-homeless
The UN Special Rapporteur, Anand Grover, expressed his shock that, at Fukushima, and even in Tokyo, workers lived in shanty-towns on pavement, under plastic (blue) tarp-(tents). It’s not Bombay, he says, and so he was astounded. He states that many had worked as contract workers for years. See: “Q&A: Issues on UNSCEAR report on Fukushima and its global implications 10/24/2013 (4 of 4)” http://youtu.be/MASAXtHfBOw
In the USSR, after an engineer went missing, he was found in the cement foundation of the reactor. [The reader may recall items, such as gloves, found in the concrete at some US reactors.] In the US, at Hanford: “Rather than hire minority workers that built the prison camp next to the construction site they had white prisoners working at the plants rather than hire 80 more minorities… They did not have enough males workers” and so “hired a lot of women” to do “the most dangerous job at the chemical processing plants“ (Dr. Kate Brown, Ph.D., discussing her book “Plutopia” on C-Span). At 35 minutes, Dr. Brown discusses that because they didn’t want people to know that the radiation was dangerous, and because of problems with young healthy workers who became, sometimes visibly, sick (including premature aging at 21 yrs old), they sent in temporary workers from prisons, etc. to work unmonitored for a couple of months, or a couple of years, and then these people would leave, and left no epidemiological trace. Her hour long interview and transcript are found here: http://www.c-span.org/video/?315104-1/book-discussion-plutopia
On past abuses of black workers at the Savannah River nuclear site see: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2014/05/04/race-and-radiation-the-equal-opportunity-killer-at-the-savannah-river-site-south-carolina-usa/
Revelations on the dirty work given to Windscale nuclear cleanup workers – and at Hanford
Emphasis our own throughout.