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100 people worked near Fukushima nuclear plant without radiation knowledge via Mainichi

Roughly 100 people worked in a former no-go zone near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant between December 2012 and March 2013 without knowledge that their work was subject to a special radiation dose limit, it has been learned.

The workers were employed by a contractor that secured jobs for them under a deal with the central government’s Cabinet Office to monitor passing vehicles. Labor standards authorities ordered the contractor to correct its practices after the problem came to light.

The contractor says it had only about two weeks to begin work after winning the government contract, and did not have much time to check pertinent laws. The case highlights the central government’s hasty approach in requesting such work — without a sufficient preparatory period or explanation.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has asked both contractors and outsourcers to comply with legal requirements.

[…]

However, the Tomioka Labor Standards Inspection Office was alerted by third parties about a possible violation of regulations for jobs other than decontamination work that are subject to special radiation limits. It launched an investigation and ordered the contractor in August last year to rectify the situation, pointing out that the job fell under the category of work in which people would be exposed to an air dose of over 2.5 microsieverts per hour.

Although the contractor independently monitored the traffic patrol workers’ radiation exposure through their dosimeters, it did not check their respective radiation exposure records, conduct an 150-minute course on radiation effects on the human body and measurement methods, carry out advance research on air doses or issue dose records.

The contractor sent workers their radiation dose records after receiving the improvement order from the labor standards inspection office, but some of the records returned unopened because the workers had changed their addresses.

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