Via Nature, an editorial: Safety shambles. Excerpt:
Earlier this summer, it emerged that five people working to clean up Japan's devastated Fukushima nuclear power plant had covered their dosimeters with lead. They blocked the radiation detectors — intended to alert them when their exposure was reaching dangerous levels — late last year to allow them to work longer hours.
An announcement made last week by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which runs the plant, found that the five workers were contracted by a subcontractor of a subcontractor, and had not even been authorized to work at the plant. Other workers were found who were not using the devices at all.
In response, TEPCO has barred its direct subcontractor, Tokyo Energy and Systems, from bidding for contracts for three months. The ministry of health and labour is still investigating.
That such egregious flouting of safety protocols would occur despite the media attention on the clean-up efforts is astonishing. And it seems all the more so given the ongoing concern about the health risks of radiation in Japan, and that the nuclear industry's lack of transparency and cavalier attitude towards safety are fuelling a debate over atomic power that is becoming the most politically divisive in the country for decades.