Over 2,500 employees have left Fukushima operator since meltdown

Environment -

In addition to the meltdown itself, the multitude of problems at the plant since the 2011 disaster has made plant operator TEPCO highly unpopular in Japan.

Get
Circa News
Copyright 2014 Reuters
Copyright 2014 Reuters

"TEPCO employees are very well trained and have excellent knowledge of how the Japanese energy sector works, making them very attractive [to potential employers]." Sean Travers, Japan president at UK recruiting firm EarthStream

Over 2,500 employees have left TEPCO since 2011 including at least a 1,000 that were offered early retirement in 2014. Many of the employees have taken jobs at other companies in the energy sector, including with solar power companies. Less than 150 left in 2010.

Along with the continued risk of the cleanup at the Fukushima plant, the damaged reputation of the company with the public has left many employees fearful of being treated unfairly, former employees say. TEPCO operates nationwide and has over 35,000 employees total.

TEPCO said on May 20 that it had started rerouting the clean water -- which it first stores and tests for radioactivity -- into the Pacific Ocean. The system is designed to bring down incoming groundwater to the plants grounds by 25%, or 100 tons a day.

Calif.-based Kurion said on June 9 it signed a contract with TEPCO to remove the radioactive element strontium from hundreds of thousands of tons of water stored at the plant. Kurion says it plans to start processing 300 tons of water per day this summer, pending approval by Japan's nuclear regulator.

"Wait on the grounds of the [Fukushima] Daiichi plant in order to immediately return to your stations." Masao Yoshida, manager of the Fukushima plant in 2011, now deceased

On May 20, Japan's Asahi Shimbun revealed a 400-page transcript of 29 hours of testimony by Yoshida in 2011 to Japanese investigators. In the testimony, which the government had previously kept secret, Yoshida says that over 650 of the plant's workers and managers fled the meltdown, even though Yoshida had ordered them to stay.

400,000 tons of radioactive water are stored at the site. TEPCO stores about 400 tons of contaminated water daily. About 300 tons of contaminated groundwater seeps daily into the Pacific Ocean via leaks at the plant. Copyright 2014 Reuters

400,000 tons of radioactive water are stored at the site. TEPCO stores about 400 tons of contaminated water daily. About 300 tons of contaminated groundwater seeps daily into the Pacific Ocean via leaks at the plant.

TEPCO on Jan. 6 said it would begin blocking and cleaning damaged underground tunnels believed to be leaking tainted water from reactors into local groundwater aquifers. In Oct. and Dec. 2013, TEPCO said it found the highest levels of radiation in nearby seawater since the initial disaster in 2011.

The entire Fukushima cleanup operation is estimated to take 30-40 years and cost $100 billion, in addition to compensation payouts to those affected by the disaster. TEPCO has so far requested $38 billion from the Japanese government to assist with legal claims.

"When he was checking underneath the foundation, a mass of concrete collapsed along with the earth around it and fell on him." TEPCO spokesperson

The plant said that a man in his 50's working for a subcontractor at the plant died at a nearby hospital on March 28 after he was crushed. It is unclear if the plant or outside authorities were planning to investigate the death.

Over 350 residents of a small district in the Fukushima city of Tamura were allowed to return to their homes April 1 after being evacuated in 2011 due to proximity to the crippled plant. However, as of May 11, only 78 residents had returned. Copyright 2014 Reuters

Over 350 residents of a small district in the Fukushima city of Tamura were allowed to return to their homes April 1 after being evacuated in 2011 due to proximity to the crippled plant. However, as of May 11, only 78 residents had returned.

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy toured the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on May 14 for the first time since taking her post. She offered U.S. help on the "near-term resolution of ongoing water contamination issues," but did not say what the U.S. would provide specifically. Copyright 2014 Reuters

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy toured the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on May 14 for the first time since taking her post. She offered U.S. help on the "near-term resolution of ongoing water contamination issues," but did not say what the U.S. would provide specifically.

View citations for this storyline
Close

Read this storyline and more on Circa for iPhone

Now available in the App Store

What is Circa? Get the App