Thursday, May 26, 2011

Nuclear Kamikazes...

Japan: elderly engineers want 'final mission' to Fukushima

By Danielle Demetriou

More than 160 nuclear and civil engineers over the age of 60 are planning to set up a Skilled Veterans Corps to assist restoring control over crucial cooling functions at the tsunami-hit nuclear power plant.

Decades of professional engineering expertise combined with a desire to protect younger workers from radiation exposure have united the elderly workers in a desire to help fix the plant.

The idea was masterminded by Yasuteru Yamada, 72, a retired engineer formerly working in plant construction, who was alarmed by reports of young subcontractors, some unskilled in this field, undertaking the high-risk work.

"We shouldn't leave the work only to young engineers," he said. "Young people, especially those who have children in future, should not be exposed to radiation." More than 1,000 people, including young subcontractors, are currently working in sensitive conditions at Fukushima in an on-going bid to restore control at the damaged six-reactor plant.

Under the new proposal, an independent body of skilled engineers over the age of 60 would be authorised by the government to take over ground work restoring cooling systems alongside Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which operates the plant.


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