The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Renewable Energy Now Employs 10.3 Million People Globally   10 May 18The renewable energy industry employs 10.3 million people worldwide, according to new data from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). And the sector is growing rapidly, adding more than 500,000 jobs last year alone, an increase of 5.3 percent from 2016, PV Magazine reported.

The solar industry accounts for the largest share of jobs in renewable energy, with nearly 3.4 million people employed in research, production, installation and maintenance of solar panels — an increase of 9 percent from 2016. The solar sector is followed by liquid biofuels, with 1.9 million jobs, and hydropower, with 1.5 million. The IRENA report finds that employment in the global wind industry decreased slightly from 2016 to 2017, shrinking to 1.15 million. China is home to 65 percent of the world’s solar jobs, and 43 percent of all renewable energy jobs. Due to the region’s robust manufacturing sector, four-fifths of all renewable energy jobs are located in Asia.

“The data underscores an increasingly regionalized picture, highlighting that in countries where attractive policies exist, the economic, social and environmental benefits of renewable energy are most evident,” said Adnan Z. Amin, director general of IRENA.


May 11, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, employment, renewable | Leave a comment

UK: Many cops guarding nuclear weapons found to be unfit

Daily Record 30th April 2018 , Dozens of elite gun cops tasked with protecting Britain’s nuclear weapons
at Faslane and other military sites are too unfit to carry firearms, it
emerged yesterday. A shocking report into the Ministry of Defence Police
reveals “concern” at the growing number who have been sidelined. The
crisis has emerged after tougher fitness tests equal to those taken by
other armed officers were introduced. Some MoD police – whose jobs include
guarding the nuclear submarine fleet at Faslane, SAS headquarters in
Hereford and GCHQ’s Cheltenham base – have failed the new tests. Others
have simply refused to take part, the Mail on Sunday reported.

May 2, 2018 Posted by | employment, UK | Leave a comment

America’s mounting piles of plutonium cores – to be removed, perilously, by contract workers

Reuters 20th April 2018 , In a sprawling plant near Amarillo, Texas, rows of workers perform by hand
one of the most dangerous jobs in American industry. Contract workers at
the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pantex facility gingerly remove the
plutonium cores from retired nuclear warheads. Although many safety rules
are in place, a slip of the hand could mean disaster.

In Energy Department facilities around the country, there are 54 metric tons of surplus
plutonium. Pantex, the plant near Amarillo, holds so much plutonium that it
has exceeded the 20,000 cores, called “pits,” regulations allow it to
hold in its temporary storage facility. There are enough cores there to
cause thousands of megatons of nuclear explosions. More are added each day.

April 22, 2018 Posted by | - plutonium, employment, USA | Leave a comment

Washington State to give more help to sick Hanford nuclear workers and former workers

Help on the way for ill Hanford workers  Tri City Herald,  March 07, 2018 

March 9, 2018 Posted by | employment, health, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Progress in getting compensation for sick Hanford nuclear workers and ex-workers

Hanford atomic workers get state legislative boost for workers’ comp   February 9, 2018 CST  BY MARK GRUENBERG  HANFORD, Wash.—This is a good-news story. It involves a persistent union legislative director, a favorable election outcome, and bipartisan and cross-chamber cooperation in the Washington State legislature.

And the beneficiaries are and will be hundreds, if not thousands, of workers exposed to some of the most dangerous materials known to humans.

The workers are present workers and retirees, at the Department of Energy’s nuclear complex in Hanford, Wash. And as a result of all those factors, they’ll be more eligible for workers’ comp.

The story starts in 1942-43, says Nick Bumpaous of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 598, located near the complex. That’s when the U.S. War Department took over the Hanford area to build the factory complex to make nuclear warheads for U.S. bombs. Hanford, like the whole Manhattan Project for developing atomic weapons, was top secret.

The feds, to their credit, realized Hanford’s workers would be in constant daily contact with uranium, plutonium and other highly radioactive materials. Who knew what would happen to them in later years due to those exposures?

“In the 1940s, the War Department got into a contract with the state legislature to have workers use Washington’s industrial insurance for workers’ comp claims if they got ill from handling the radioactive material,” Bumpaous said in a phone interview. “The feds would reimburse the state for any claims.”

The catch was when sickened workers went to their doctors, the doctors “couldn’t tell what the illnesses were” – because Hanford was secret – “so they couldn’t give you medication,” much less OK workers’ comp claims.

Common diseases among the Hanford workers include various cancers, according to a fact sheet for a later federal workers comp program for federal nuclear workers nationwide. The Steelworkers, who now represent many of those nuke workers, lobbied for and won the federal program. It began in 2001, with a second part added in 2004. But it caps lifetime benefits at $250,000, plus medical expenses.

“But you still put the burden of proof” upon the worker to show his or her toil at Hanford and exposure to the fissile materials there caused those ills, not to mention exposure to other threats, Bumpaous says.

One example: Exposure to diethyl mercury, “a silent odorless, colorless, tasteless stuff that induces neurological diseases and dementia.” In addition, “you have a whole generation of people with reactive airway disease,” he adds.

The doctors couldn’t diagnose the reasons for Hanford ills. The workers became so ill they couldn’t work and had to leave their jobs, “so they’re not getting a paycheck and they had no health insurance.” They had to navigate the bureaucracy “and their claims were denied,” Bumpaous explains. Workers’ comp denials at Hanford were 52 percent above average.

“It’s hard enough to take care of yourself when you’re battling the Department of Energy,” which now runs Hanford “and the state Department of Labor and Industry,” which runs workers’ comp, Bumpaous says.

With the burden of proof on the workers, Bumpaous got into the picture. Two years ago, he read about legislation the Fire Fighters successfully pushed elsewhere, shifting the burden of proof for certain diseases – known to be caused by Fire Fighter exposure to asbestos and other dangers on the job – from the worker to the state.

In short, if a Fire Fighter goes to the doctor with asbestosis, the doctor must presume the worker caught it from on-the-job exposure and is eligible for workers’ comp. Bumpaous wanted to create the same scenario for the Hanford workers. Workers and retirees still must go to the doctors, though.

“These brave workers continue to be exposed to some of the most hazardous substances known to man, including many chemical and radiological hazards as yet unidentified, and the safety measures intended to protect them are inadequate,” wrote David Groves in The Stand, the Washington State Labor Council’s online newspaper, which first reported the legislation.

But the Hanford workers couldn’t get workers comp because they had to “connect specific exposures to their disease — a virtually impossible task given the” top secret “circumstances at Hanford.”

Bumpaous enlisted two lawmakers to push the measure shifting the burden of proof from the workers to the state: State Rep. Larry Haler, R-Richland, and State Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, a longtime pro-worker advocate, who is now state Senate President Pro Tem and chair of the state Senate’s Labor Committee. Haler’s district includes Hanford.

And that’s where the political switch comes in. When Bumpaous, Haler and Keiser first tried to get their bill, HB1723, through, it passed the House, then died in the Senate, which the GOP controlled by one vote. Republican leaders wouldn’t even let it get out of committee.

But earlier this year, Manka Dhingra, a Democratic pro-worker woman with strong union backing, won a special election for an open State Senate seat. Control switched, Keiser took over – and the legislation for the Hanford workers sailed through: 76-22 in the House and 35-14 in the Senate.

“It’s important we take care of workers who suffered due to being exposed to harmful chemicals and processes at Hanford,” Haler said. “Despite all the safety precautions, families and individuals have been devastated by illness and disease. They need help. This will help make that easier,” Haler said after HB1723 headed for Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk.

“Exposure to heavy metal and radiation has ruined people’s lives,” Keiser told the Senate before passage.

“I cannot think of a more suitable assertion for this Senate to make than putting our partisan differences aside to put people first. We are seeing people dying from dementia, cancer and lung disease who were systematically left out of workers compensation.”

“People went bankrupt paying for cancer treatments. This ordeal has been going on since the 1990s. We have seen a whole generation impacted by this tragedy. That is not right. Our Washington community cares about protecting all workers.”

Inslee is expected to sign the bill. But that’s not the end of the story for Bumpaous. “I want to see everyone get these benefits” nationwide if they worked in nuclear weapons and warhead production, he says. “That way we won’t have this type of stuff in the future.”


February 10, 2018 Posted by | employment, health, USA | Leave a comment

The dangerous job of specialist scuba divers hauling radioactive trash out of Sizewell nuclear fuel storage pond

NDA 1st Feb 2018, Specialist scuba divers are plumbing new depths to haul radioactive waste
out of the nuclear fuel storage pond at Sizewell A. The team of American
underwater experts tackled their first UK ‘nuclear dive’ at Dungeness A
in 2016 where, wearing full protective suits and shielded from radiation by
the water, they were able to cut up empty fuel storage skips and retrieve
other pieces of submerged equipment.

The ponds were used to store thousands
of used nuclear fuel rods, held in metal skips, after they were discharged
from the reactors. After the last of the fuel was transported to Sellafield
for reprocessing, the skips and a range of redundant items, including
sludge, were left behind in the water.

Pond clean-out conventionally takes
place using remotely operated equipment to lift the whole radioactive skips
clear of the water, exposing them to the air, where they are carefully cut
up before decontamination, storage and eventual disposal. This process is
slow with potential radiation dose risks for workers. By doing the work
under water, the divers can cut up the skips more safely, access awkward
areas more easily, making the whole process safer, faster and more

February 3, 2018 Posted by | employment, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Trump tax bill promotes polluting robots – and damages clean energy workers

Polluting robots win big, clean energy workers get screwed in Trump tax bill By Joe Romm on 7 December 2017

Think Progress  Polluting robots of the world, unite! The GOP tax bill is for you.

The rest of us, however, have a lot to lose from GOP tax changes that favor investments in dirty energy over clean — and robots over human workers.

As one MIT economist told Newsweek, “We are creating huge subsidies in our tax code for capital and encouraging employers to use machines instead of labor.” And unless significant changes are made in the GOP plan, those machines will be running on dirty energy.

 Last month, I discussed how the House tax bill targets key solar and wind energy tax credits that have helped make clean energy a crucial high-wage job-creating sector in the United States.

The good news is that the Senate tax bill doesn’t roll back those renewable energy tax credits.

The bad news is that it contains language that could seriously undermine the investment in renewables by imposing “a new 100 percent tax” on those credits, as Gregory Wetstone, head of the American Council on Renewable Energy, explained in a statement.

“If this bill passes as drafted, major financial institutions would no longer participate in tax equity financing, which is the principal mechanism for monetizing credits,” Wetstone pointed out.

“Almost overnight, you would see a devastating reduction in wind and solar energy investment and development.” Meanwhile, tax subsidies for fossil fuels, many of which are decades old, would continue unchanged–and the Senate bill opens up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.

This type of clean energy financing will reach $12 billion this year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which examined the impact of this change in detail.

This investment, much of it by multinational finance companies, has helped leveraged some $50 billion a year in U.S. wind and solar projects, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Ironically — or, rather, tragically — harming renewables mostly harms red states. As “The American Prospect” noted, “The states that voted for Trump produce nearly 70 percent of wind energy, while 85 percent of existing wind projects are in GOP-held congressional districts.”

As for longer-term impacts, the GOP plan would cut billions of dollars in incentives for  the biggest new source of sustainable high-wage employment in the world — clean energy — just as China and the rest of the world are making massive investments.

What’s unknown at this point is how these and other changes to these tax credits will be dealt with in the final bill, after the House and Senate work out their differences. While the House plan to gut the credits was intentional, it’s not clear that Senators intended to undermine them, so the problem is fixable.

 One thing that was very intentional was the “full and immediate expensing of equipment purchases” provision. This would let companies deduct from their taxes the full cost of some types of investments, such as new industrial equipment, that are currently only allowed a 50 percent deduction.

This change would occur just when companies are beginning to automate their factories using robots and advanced computing technology, as corporate tax attorney Robert Kovacev, explained to Huffington Post: “It’s going to accelerate spending, basically, on robots that could displace workers.”

The GOP plan naturally has no tax incentives to encourage businesses to hire more actual workers or to retrain those who lose their job due to automation

Indeed, the Senate bill is so bad that Bloomberg’s editors wrote a piece explaining “Republicans have managed to make a terrible plan worse.” As one example the equipment-expensing provision would take effect immediately, but the Senate only lowers the corporate tax rate to 20 percent (from 35) in 2019.

“This will allow businesses to take deductions on investments while rates are high, then pay a lower rate on the resulting income, creating a perverse incentive to pursue otherwise unprofitable projects,” explains Bloomberg.

So the Senate bill actually encourages companies to replace workers even with unprofitable robots.

Unprofitable polluting robots — quite a legacy for the disastrous GOP tax plan.

December 7, 2017 Posted by | employment, technology, USA | Leave a comment

Risk of Chernobyl sarcophagus collapsing – radiation danger to workers now sealing it

Vice News 5th Dec 2017, Workers at the Chernobyl Power Plant are now facing some of the highest
radiation levels ever while they put the finishing touches on a new
decontamination structure for the world’s worst nuclear disaster. After
the fallout in 1986, workers at the plant built a sarcophagus to contain
the radiation in just three months.

But it was just a quick fix, designed
without future decontamination in mind. And now, after more than 30 years,
it’s at risk of collapse. Workers are sealing the old structure with a
new one they finished building a year ago, called the New Safe Confinement.
They hope it will hold for the next 100 years.

December 7, 2017 Posted by | employment, Ukraine | Leave a comment

America’s “overkill” with nuclear weapons – but Trump still wants more

The Sway of the Nuclear Arms Industry Over Donald Trump and Congress Is Terrifying
“The devastation is very important to me.”  Mother Jones his story originally appeared on……… in every sense of the term, our nuclear arsenal already represents overkill on an almost unimaginable scale. Independent experts from US war colleges suggest that about 300 warheads would be more than enough to deter any country from launching a nuclear attack on the United States.It may not surprise you to learn that there’s nothing new about the influence the nuclear weapons lobby has over Pentagon spending priorities. The successful machinations of the makers of strategic bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles, intended to keep tax dollars flowing their way, date back to the dawn of the nuclear age and are the primary reason President Dwight D. Eisenhower coined the term “military-industrial complex” and warned of its dangers in his 1961 farewell address.

Without the development of such weapons, that complex simply would not exist in its present form. The Manhattan Project, the vast endeavor that produced the first workable nukes during World War II, was one of the largest government-funded research and manufacturing projects in history. Today’s nuclear warhead complex is still largely built around facilities and locations dating back to that time…….

Eisenhower couldn’t have been more clear-eyed about all of this. He saw the missile gap for the fiction it was or, as he put it, a “useful piece of political demagoguery” for his opponents. “Munitions makers,” he insisted, “are making tremendous efforts towards getting more contracts and in fact seem to be exerting undue influence over the senators.”

 Once Kennedy took office, it became all too apparent that there was no missile gap, but by then it hardly mattered. The damage had been done. Billions of dollars more were flowing into the nuclear-industrial complex to build up an American arsenal of ICBMs already unmatched on the planet.

The techniques that the arms lobby and its allies in government used more than half a century ago to promote sky-high nuclear weapons spending continue to be wielded to this day. The 21st-century arms complex employs tools of influence that Kennedy and his compatriots would have found familiar indeed—including millions of dollars in campaign contributions that flow to members of Congress and the continual employment of 700 to 1,000 lobbyists to influence them; that’s nearly two arms lobbyists for every member of Congress. Much of this sort of activity remains focused on ensuring that nuclear weapons of all types are amply financed and that the funding for the new generations of the bombers, submarines, and missiles that will deliver them stays on track.

When traditional lobbying methods don’t get the job done, the industry’s argument of last resort is jobs—in particular, jobs in the states and districts of key members of Congress. This process is aided by the fact that nuclear weapons facilities are spread remarkably widely across the country There are labs in California and New Mexico; a testing and research site in Nevada; a warhead assembly and disassembly plant in Texas; a factory in Kansas City, Missouri, that builds nonnuclear parts for such weapons; and a plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, that produces weapon-grade uranium. There are factories or bases for ICBMs, bombers, and ballistic missile submarines in Connecticut, Georgia, Washington State, California, Ohio, Massachusetts, Louisiana, North Dakota, and Wyoming. Such a nuclear geography ensures that a striking number of congressional representatives will automatically favor more spending on nuclear weapons.

In reality, the jobs argument is deeply flawed. As the experts know, virtually any other activity into which such funding flowed would create significantly more jobs than Pentagon by economists at the University of Massachusetts, for example, found infrastructure investment would create one and one-half times as many jobs as Pentagon funding and education spending twice as many.

In most cases it hasn’t seemed to matter that the jobs claims for weapons spending are grotesquely exaggerated and better alternatives litter the landscape. The argument remains remarkably potent in states and communities that are particularly dependent on the Pentagon. Perhaps unsurprisingly, members of Congress from such areas are disproportionately represented on the committees that decide how much will be spent on nuclear and conventional weaponry……….

November 20, 2017 Posted by | employment, USA | Leave a comment

What It’s Like for Informal Labour Employed in Nuclear Power Stations in Japan

Informal Labour, Local Citizens and the Tokyo Electric Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Crisis: Responses to Neoliberal Disaster Management, ANU, Adam Broinowski, 7 Nov 17,  

Sworn to secrecy,12 after a superficial safety education drill, they are sent into highly contaminated, hot and wet labyrinthine areas.

Irregular workers’ oral contracts with tehaishi are often illegal or dangerous, and are sometimes imposed on workers through threats or use of force.

Over the past 40 years, poor monitoring and record-keeping has meant that many former nuclear workers who develop leukaemia and other illnesses have been denied government compensation due to their lawyers’ inability to prove the etiological link between their disease and employment.

Informal Labour, Local Citizens and the Tokyo Electric Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Crisis: Responses to Neoliberal Disaster Management, ANU, Adam Broinowski, 7 Nov 17,  “…

Conditions for Informal Labour Employed in Nuclear Power Stations  The phenomenon of assembling and recruiting a relatively unskilled labour pool at the cheapest rate possible is typical in nearly all of Japan’s large-scale modern industrial projects in the 20th century. As early as the late 19th century, however, non-criminal homeless men were recruited for such projects, whether forced, coerced or voluntarily from the major day-labourer (hiyatoi rōdōsha 日雇い労働者) sites (yoseba) established in Sanya (Tokyo), Kotobuki (Yokohama), Kamagasaki (Osaka) and Sasashima (Nagoya). In pre–World War II and wartime Japan, yakuza tehaishi (手配師 labour recruiters) operated forced labour camps known as takobeya (たこ部屋 octopus rooms) for Korean and Chinese labourers who had been transported to work mainly in coal mines and on construction sites.6………

The rapid build of nuclear power stations was planned in the 1960s by a consortium of major investment banks, electric utilities and construction companies and/or industry manufacturers (Mitsubishi, Tōshiba, Hitachi, Sumitomo, etc.), and was carried out in the 1970s, with increased momentum in response to the oil crisis of 1974–76. Through an intensive ‘regional development’ program of rural industrialisation from the early 1970s, politically disempowered communities were targeted as potential cheap labour as their environs were designated as sites for nuclear projects by investment capital. In a combination of regulatory capture and economic dependency, utilities moved in to provide employment opportunities to communities while the same communities steadily lost control over their resources and subsistence economies. In the process, they lost political agency as their political representatives often received corporate and state inducements for these projects. As TEPCO owns the electricity distribution system in Fukushima Prefecture, which includes hydroelectric and thermal power stations as well as nuclear, and is a major employer and investor in Fukushima Prefecture,10 it has considerable sway in the political process as well as over electricity bills.

By the early 1980s, irregular workers came to comprise nearly 90 per cent of all nuclear workers.11 As nuclear reactors grow increasingly contaminated and corroded by radiation over time, informal labour became fodder for regular maintenance, cleaning, repairing and/or venting and refuelling of these nuclear reactors to reduce exposures to permanent company employees such as scientists and engineers. As the power station must be halted during the maintenance period, this period equates to a lack of production and profitability and is kept to a bare minimum by the operators, an approach that led to a litany of safety oversights and accidents.

Although provided less training, informal nuclear workers are paid higher over a shorter employment period than regular workers, whose insurance is taken out of their wage. Sworn to secrecy,12 after a superficial safety education drill, they are sent into highly contaminated, hot and wet labyrinthine areas. Their work includes scrubbing contaminated areas, installing shields to reduce exposure for skilled workers, decontaminating and repairing pipes and tanks, welding, transporting contaminated materials and waste, washing contaminated uniforms and tools, removing filters and clearing garbage, inspecting gauges in high-level areas, dispersing chemicals over nuclear waste piles, pouring high-level liquid waste into drums and mopping up waste water. Although radioprotection regulations have been tightened in the last decade, working conditions for irregular workers have not necessarily improved and, without sufficient information about radiation danger, they can still be exposed to over 1 millisievert (mSv) of external radiation within minutes in high concentration areas and accumulate large amounts of internal radiation.13

Since 3.11, invoking the International Commission on Radiological Protection’s (ICRPs) often-used ALARA (as low as reasonably allowable) principle to justify this regulatory contingency, the state also raised nuclear workers’ limits from no more than 50 mSv per year (mSv/y) and 100 mSv/5 years to 250 mSv/y to deal with emergency conditions, and determined that there would be no follow-up health treatment for those exposed to doses below 50 mSv/y, while TEPCO decided to not record radiation levels below 2 mSv/y in the misplaced justification that the effects would be negligible. In December 2011, ‘cold shutdown’ was (erroneously) declared and the workers’ limit was returned to 100 mSv/5 years. It will likely be raised again as the government expedites decommissioning to meet its estimated completion by 2030–2050.14 Although very few regular workers’ cumulative doses exceeded 20 mSv/y in any year prior to 3.11, by June 2015 the official number rose to 6,64215 with doses of irregular nuclear workers often un(der)counted.

In a fast-track 40-year plan to decommission Fukushima Daiichi (i.e. removing the cores and dismantling the plant), as of August 2015 roughly 45,000 irregular workers (‘front-line’ workers, or ‘nuclear gypsies’) had been assembled at the J-Village Iwaki-Naraha soccer stadium before entering the sites. As well as jobs at the power stations, they work on decontamination and construction sites throughout the prefecture, which include those designated for the 2020 Olympics, a new school in Futaba (the town nearest to FDNPS), a large centre for radiation monitoring, a large research and training institute for reactor decommissioning, and a giant sea wall for tsunami prevention (see also Chapter Five). Yakuza-linked labour brokers (tehaishi/ninpu-dashi), eager to profit from the post-3.11 decommissioning budget (conservatively estimated at $150 billion), use social media and oral contracts to recruit these workers from the most vulnerable populations for ‘clean up’ work.16 In this customary cascade of diluted responsibility, their original wage and conditions are skimmed or cut away (pinhane sareta ピンハネされた) by contractors (roughly 733 companies) so that some irregular workers receive as little as 6,000 yen per day and only a very small fraction of the 10,000 yen per day in danger money promised by the Ministry of the Environment (MoE) and TEPCO.17

Irregular workers’ oral contracts with tehaishi are often illegal or dangerous, and are sometimes imposed on workers through threats or use of force.18 In addition, the day labourer may become indebted to tehaishi for housing and/or loans for lifestyle dependencies (i.e. gambling, drugs, prostitution). As products of structural discrimination, itinerant and/or irregular workers who are already socially isolated may find it difficult to build support networks, whether through marriage, family or solid friendships. Obligated within a semi-legal economy and stripped of rights and protections, each worker is pitted against the other, young and old, stronger and weaker, individual and family man, for basic survival.

Over the past 40 years, poor monitoring and record-keeping has meant that many former nuclear workers who develop leukaemia and other illnesses have been denied government compensation due to their lawyers’ inability to prove the etiological link between their disease and employment. For example, the death of Yoshida Masao (58), the Fukushima Daiichi manager who was among the ‘Fukushima 50’ who remained at the plant to manage the nuclear meltdowns in their critical phase and who developed oesophagal cancer in 2013, was not recognised by TEPCO as related to radiation exposure from Fukushima Daiichi as the cancer was deemed to have developed too quickly after the initial accident.

Irregular nuclear workers have commonly relied on permanent employees to monitor, record and calibrate their doses. Denied sufficient information about radiation exposure risks, and preferring not to jeopardise their contracts and provoke physical intimidation if they complain about their conditions, many collude with company officers (who record their accumulated doses) to camouflage and underestimate their dose rates (particularly for internal doses). This allows them to extend their time and contracts at nuclear plants before they are deemed to have reached (or exceeded) the maximum annual dose limit (50 mSv/y).19 When a nuclear worker is diagnosed with abnormalities in a routine check-up, some subcontractors may falsify nuclear workers’ passbooks.20 Despite the long lives of internalised radionuclides, it has been customary either not to measure this properly and/or to simply reset the dose record at the end of each financial year.

While protective clothing and procedures have grown more stringent for nuclear workers, especially after some workers died and fell ill from heat-related causes, irregular workers remain far less protected.22 At Fukushima Daiichi, where crews are overworked and understaffed, irregular workers often commit errors leading to cases of serious injury and large leaks of radioactive materials into the environment. This is further compounded by the lack of understanding or recognition of chronic illnesses in either permanent or irregular nuclear workers. This has sometimes led to poorly explained deaths of nuclear workers.23

In October 2015, a welder in his late 30s and father of three from Kita-Kyushu became the first worker in four years to be awarded workers’ insurance payments (medical costs and loss of income for temporary disability) while three more cases remained undecided. He was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukaemia after having accumulated 19.8 mSv/y from exposure to a radiation leak and one year’s work at Fukushima Daiichi (Reactors 3 and 4) and the Genkai nuclear plant (Kyushu) (both of which use MOX fuel).24 While compensation was recognised under nuclear workers’ compensation insurance legislation (1976), the Health Ministry maintained that a causal link between illness and employment remains to be scientifically proven. After the delayed report by TEPCO of 1,973 workers exposed to over 100 mSv/y by mid-2013, by August 2015 21,000 of the 45,000 irregular workers had been exposed to over 5 mSv/y and 9,000 workers to over 20 mSv/y.25 TEPCO and the central government would certainly be worried about a spike in compensation claims.

Without a proper health regime, the permanent damage incurred by irregular nuclear workers far outweighs the value of their cheap labour power. With their use as filters as they move to each plant, as nuclear workers grow older and sicker they become less able to commodify their labour and are unlikely to receive proper treatment and/or compensation (due to insufficient data and high radiation safety limits among other things). Although the endless production of labour willing to take on this dangerous work and the devolution of responsibility and ambiguity around radiation health effects are used to justify the continuation of these practices, if workers are knowingly placed in harmful conditions the employer is in breach of a duty of care under the Labour Standards Law. As byproducts of a discriminatory industrial labour system, these irregular nuclear workers and their families, like many elsewhere, are deprived of basic rights to health and well-being. As one labourer stated in relation to Fukushima Daiichi: ‘TEPCO is God. The main contractors are kings, and we are slaves’.26 In short, Fukushima Daiichi clearly illustrates the social reproduction, exploitation and disposability of informal labour, in the state protection of capital, corporations and their assets….

November 11, 2017 Posted by | employment, Japan, Reference | Leave a comment

30 October: National Day of Remembrance commemorating atomic energy workers

National Day of Remembrance commemorating atomic energy workers RIVER October 24 2017 ST. PETERS, MO – Each year on Oct. 30th atomic energy workers across the nation are commemorated for the National Day of Remembrance. “……Many atomic energy workers unknowingly worked with hazardous chemicals and radiation without consent or proper protective gear during this construction. As a result, countless numbers of individuals are now sick or deceased because of occupational induced illnesses……… Today, the sacrificial work displayed by nuclear weapons workers for their nation and families is remembered……..

October 25, 2017 Posted by | employment, USA | Leave a comment

How to get a $60 million payout – be an executive of a $9 billion failed nuclear project

Who gets $60 million when nuke project fails? SCANA execs with golden parachutes could, Myrtle Beach Online, BY AVERY G. WILKS  21 Oct 17 Top SCANA Corp. executives who led a failed nuclear project that cost S.C. power customers and shareholders billions could be paid roughly $60 million more if the Cayce-based company is sold in the aftermath of the V.C. Summer fiasco.

October 23, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, employment, USA | Leave a comment

UK unions, formerly opponents of nuclear power, are now slow to understand the increasing role of renewable energy

Dave Elliott’s Blog 5th Oct 2017, The UK Trade Unions currently mostly back nuclear power.

In 2016, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady noted that the Hinkley project ‘will
be the largest construction project in the UK, creating 25,000 high-quality
jobs and 500 apprenticeships’.

It wasn’t always like this. In 1986, in
the wake of Chernobyl, the TUC backed a nuclear ‘moratorium and review’
policy. In the same year, the Labour Party had confirmed its 1985 anti
(civil) nuclear power stance, with a two thirds majority for phasing it

The then quite dominant Transport and General Workers Union said it
was ‘clear and unambiguous in its position on nuclear power. We support a
halt to nuclear expansion and a safe and planned phase out of nuclear power
in this country.’

So what has changed? Well it’s taken nearly 30 years,
but renewables are now big (25%) growing, and creating jobs- with nearly
126,000 people employed in the UK renewable energy industry in 2017
according to the REA.

However, the unions still seem unsure, and some have
taken to recycling dubious statistics and arguments to try to undermine the
case for renewables. At its 2016 annual Congress the GMB Union’s National
Secretary, Justin Bowden, noted that‘over the last 12 months there were
46 days when wind was supplying 10% or less of the installed and connected
wind capacity to the grid’ and insisted that ‘until there is a
scientific breakthrough on carbon capture or solar storage, then nuclear
and gas are the only reliable shows in town which those advocating a
renewable energy-only policy have to accept.”

This doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. For over half of those 46 low-wind days
i.e. outside of winter, and for most of the nights, overall energy demand
would have been low, so a low wind input would not matter. When it did,
existing gas plants would have ramped up a bit more to provide the extra
energy needed e.g. as they do any way to meet daily peaks. As more
renewables come off the grid, other balancing measures can also be used, so
there is not really a problem. But inflexible base-load nuclear plants are
no use for this – they can’t vary output regularly, quickly and safely.
They just get in the way of the flexible supply and demand approach that is

October 9, 2017 Posted by | employment, UK | Leave a comment

UK politician criticises nuclear workers’ union as “the voice of big business”

Politics Home 28th Sept 2017, A powerful trade union has labelled Clive Lewis “anti-working class” after
he launched an extraordinary attack on their defence of the nuclear
industry. The GMB said the former Shadow Cabinet member’s remarks were
“offensive to our members”.

Speaking at a fringe event at the Labour party
conference, Mr Lewis said the unions, and the GMB in particular, had become
“the voice of big business”. He also accused them of fighting “to the
bitter end” for the arms industry, but failing to speak up for the
renewable energy sector because it didn’t generate union members.

The Labour MP for Norwich South said: “One of the problems with where trade
unions are at the moment is that they have been so weakened that I think
they have become, and have been used by big business as, a voice for big

“Because big business understands that if you have a unionised
workforce they also become spokespeople for you. They create a situation
where you have a wide and broad spectrum politically of people supporting
your particular position.

“On nuclear, yes, GMB and other unions are staunchly supporting it because the jobs there generate union members.
Contrast that to the highly self-employed solar sector: the unions have no
trade unions there. They are not speaking up at all for them…

September 30, 2017 Posted by | employment, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Construction workers at Hinkley Point C nuclear project reject pay offer, will support industrial action

Bridgwater Mercury 21st Sept 2017, CONSTRUCTION workers at Hinkley Point C have overwhelmingly rejected a
renewed pay offer in the long-standing dispute over pay and bonuses on the
project. Industrial action is now likely after 95 per cent of staff
rejected the new deal from EDF which was understood to be about a five per
cent increase on their gross pay. A worker at the power plant site, who did
not want to be named, expects the same proportion of the workforce will
support industrial action. He said: “Considering it is the biggest
project in Europe strike is an absolute catastrophe”.

September 25, 2017 Posted by | employment, UK | Leave a comment