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Fukushima Worker Says 'Slipshod Work' Done on Storage Tanks

'I couldn’t believe that such slipshod work was being done'

- Andrea Germanos, staff writer

IAEA experts examine recovery work on top of Unit 4 of TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station on 17 April 2013. (Photo: Greg Webb / IAEA)A former worker at Fukushima described his amazement at the emphasis on cost-cutting, time-saving, "slipshot" measures to deal with the clean-up at the crisis-stricken nuclear plant.

“I couldn’t believe that such slipshod work was being done, even if it was part of stopgap measures,” 48-year-old Yoshitatsu Uechi told The Asahi Shimbun.

During his work between July 2 and Dec. 6, 2012 at the plant, he was sent to fix an opening in a radioactive water storage tank—an opening that he saw was being closed with just adhesive tape. 

Uechi's job was to remove the tape, cover the hole with a sealant and to cover the area with a steel plate.  He told the Japanese paper he was instructed to use just four bolts to hold the steel plate, even though the plate had holes for 8.

Uechi also said that some second-hand materials were used. In addition, Asahi Shimbun reports,

wire nets were used instead of reinforcing bars during the placement of concrete for storage tank foundations.

And to save on the sealing agent used to join metal sheets of the storage tanks, waterproof sheets were applied along the joints inside flange-type cylindrical tanks. Some of these tanks were later found to be leaking radioactive water.

Previous reporting revealed that workers at the plant were dealing with health problems, poor wages and falling morale, while a recent investigation by Reuters showed that private labor contractors in Japan were "recruiting" homeless people to work on the clean-up for less than minimum wage.

Plant operator TEPCO has been slammed for mishap after mishap in what has been described as a "permanent crisis" that demands a global take-over.

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