Japan Nuclear Crisis: New criticism of safety measures, lack of radiation testing for Fukushima workers


Photo: A handout photo from Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency shows Tokyo Electric Power Co. workers refueling a portable power generator at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Tomioka, Fukushima Prefecture northeastern Japan March 23, 2011. Picture taken March 23, 2011. REUTERS/Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency via Kyodo.

Mizuko Ito (a cultural anthropologist, and a friend whose observations of the current Japan stories I’ve been following closely) points us to an article in the Mainichi edited after publication to remove critical comments by a physician who treated workers exposed to radiation from a nuclear accident in Japan in 1999.

Mizuko writes:

[Tokyo University Professor Emeritus Kazuhiko Maekawa] is probably the most pre-eminent specialist in Japan on health effects of radiation exposure. The original article was edited to remove his comments a few hours after it was posted.

The “Tōkai Village JCO Criticality Accident” in 1999 involved high rates of radiation exposure to three workers, where two died. As a result of the incident there were many new training and safety measures put in place for nuclear plant operators and workers. Maekawa has written extensively on the effects of radiation exposure and emergency response, and he was taking to task the lack of safety measures and proper radiation testing on site.

Here’s the current version of the article, and here’s the version that someone found on the google cache for me.

Here is the now-missing critical graf, translated for Boing Boing by Mizuko:


Tokyo University Professor Emeritus Kazuhiko Maekawa, who treated the victims of the JCO accident, pointed out that “If the [radiation exposure] is localized, there should be no risk of death, but in the first place, it’s criminal that there is no radiation management specialist on site. Toden [ “Tokyo Denryoku” = Tokyo Electric Power Company ] is not making use of any of the lessons from the JCO accident.”

And Mizuko updates this morning,

Today the Asahi is reporting that ‘various experts’ are criticizing TEPCO’s sloppy safely procedures and failure to monitor radiation levels for the workers. They quote two faculty from Kyoto University.

Here’s the link to today’s new Asahi item in Japanese, and here’s a Google Translate version in (robot) English.