On Friday, September 14, seven SVCF members led by Dr. Kunio Ito, professor emeritus at Tokyo University, visited TEPCO Head Office and handed in a paper demanding permission for the SVCF to make inspections of the Fukushima Daiichi NPP.
From TEPCO side, Kenzo Takase, Manager, Nuclear Power & Location, received SVCF members and the talk went on for approximately 50 minutes.
A summary of the exchange is as follows:
● Inspection of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant
Takase: In principle, we do not accept people for inspection of the NPP site, since it may put a burden on our engineers at the site. Due to our policy to give highest priority to the on-site cleanup work, we basically decline requests for inspection of the site even from the Diet members.
SVCF: Why don’t you ask us to work for you, in guiding those people who want to inspect the NPP site? (laughter).
Takase: The NPP site is not suited for voluntary guides unlike Oze National Park. We’d have to assign engineers for the guiding tasks. We would not ask you to bear even a little bit of the burden.
SVCF: We are prepared to learn, of course. (laughter). We have a lot of professionals in various fields. If you could give us a chance to train, we will be able to help you.
SVCF: We are not just amateurs. We have many retired engineers who are willing to offer their skill. So, will you please bring our offer to your boss for consideration?
Takase: Yes, I certainly understand your demand today and take it to my company.
●Our voluntary work in the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant
SVCF: Our organization has been given the official title of an Incorporated Association of Public Interest, in view of our aspirations to reduce the amount of radioactive exposure for the younger generations engaged in clean-up works in the stricken Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. We earnestly wish to be allocated any tasks that can be undertaken by seniors. Certainly, we are well informed of the health issues involved. However, nothing has been done to date. Accordingly, we propose an experimental attempt, driven by our own determination to assume such roles in the exposed conditions. We have gained momentum in our membership; the regular members amount to over 700 and the registered supporting members are over 1600. Although not all members are leading professionals, most of them are skilled workers. In the current perilous and crucial stage of Japan, we are determined to participate in the process, even if it were in a simple capacity.
Takase: In the advanced radiation conditions at our premises, you’d have to dress in a thoroughly airtight protective gear with a full-faced mask. In case of a hotter summer than that of last year, we are largely concerned with your physical condition and health safety.
SVCF: We have volunteered.
Takase: All right sir, I understand. Let me review what is proper for your participation and report later.
SVCF: Well, we look forward to your consideration. We assume your acceptance of an outside organization contributing to society may help change the public’s attitude to your stance. Some Internet users evaluate and criticize your strategy, bringing forth the impression that you seek to dissimulate unfavorable matters and try to hide the dirty linen from the general public. This in another reason why your acceptance of our approach may be a message to those who are ingrained skeptics. An ideal relation would be “there are some sensitive matters that we cannot disclose, but we will let outsiders help with what we can share”.
Takase: Indeed, we truly appreciate your proposal. However, we are subject to rigorous rules of protection against radioactive materials, and it is not allowed to enter and exit the places in question. The police have been very strict in this matter, and therefore, we are forced to limit the requests of visits to the absolutely minimum level, and on a case-by-case basis.
SVCF： We appreciate your concern regarding our health issues. However, we are resolute and consistent with our determination, even to a small extent, to reduce the radiation that affects younger workers. So far we have not been allowed to do anything at all. Shall we do a first trial together?
Takase: Ｉ respectfully disagree with your suggestion. We will consider this issue and let you know of our decision. To the question whether we have recruited enough manpower, we reply in the affirmative. Under the current satisfactory conditions, we do discuss our workload on a monthly basis with our employees and contractors, based on long-range projections of possible radiation levels.
SVCF: Are you saying that from now on, in the next two or three decades, you do not have to worry about manpower?
Takase: In our company we have thousands of qualified staff for nuclear power plant operations and we always undertake staff rotations in the mid and long range time span, while we strictly control the amounts of exposure in the hazardous area. In discussions with our contractors we receive good responses from them and we confirm our system management and reliability daily, monthly, and annually. We look ahead in the positive stance.