Nuke workers toiling under intense heat via The Japan Times online

Workers are struggling under intense heat at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, with as many as 31 having fallen sick with heatstroke symptoms as of Friday, according to Tokyo Electric Power Co.

While the utility has taken steps to ease working conditions, such as by shifting work hours, the measures have apparently been insufficient. Perspiration begins to build up inside masks, for instance, within seconds of putting them on. Workers also appear to feel pressured and refrain from taking sufficient breaks for fear of slowing down work to contain the crisis.

Mitsuo Sakamoto, 57, of Miyakonojo, Miyazaki Prefecture, is operating heavy machinery to remove rubble in a room several meters away, controlling it through a TV monitor as the machine picks up highly irradiated rubble and moves it to containers.

Because of manpower shortages, he said he works 3½-hour stretches without a break.

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