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Protective gear shortage hits Fukushima workers via The Asahi Shimbun

The shortage of protective gear caused by the coronavirus pandemic has hit the workers at the meltdown-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, where they’ve needed them daily for years to guard against radiation.

Shipments temporarily stopped coming in, although an alternative supplier was later found, according to Tokyo Electric Power Co., the utility that runs the Fukushima plant. The 4,000 workers at the plant cannot always practice social distancing as they must come close to each other to carry out cleanup work, spokesman Joji Hara said Thursday.

To reduce the possibility of infection, workers have been forbidden from riding on public transportation, such as trains, and must either drive to work or take the special company buses. When eating at the cafeteria, they can’t sit facing each other, and their temperatures are checked daily, he said.

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“We are involved in decommissioning work that can’t ever stop and so we are taking every precaution we can,” said Hara.

The workers with special skills, who would be hard to replace, have reduced contact with people to minimize risks of infection. There is no lockdown in Japan and so all such efforts outside work are voluntary.

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