How Japan weakened radiation protection laws

Dying for TEPCO? Fukushima’s Nuclear Contract Workers, The Asia Pacific Journal , Paul Jobin 28 April 11, “……..On March 14th, the Ministry of Health and Labor raised the maximum dose for workers to 250 mSv a year, where previously it was set at 100 mSv over 5 years (either 20 mSv a year for five years or 50 mSv for 2 years, which is in itself a strange interpretation of the recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection’s guideline stipulating a maximum of 20 mSv a year. The letter that the Ministry sent the next day to the chiefs of Labor Bureaus (都道府県労働局) to inform them of the decision justifies it on the grounds of the state of emergency (やむを得ない緊急の場合), ignoring the safety of the workers.2 This could be a measure to avoid or limit the number of workers who would apply for compensation. Stated differently, it has the effect of legalizing illness and deaths from nuclear radiation, or at least the state’s responsibility for them. Usually, in case of leukemia, a one year exposure to 5 mSV is sufficient to obtain occupational hazards compensation. The list of potential applicants could be very long in light of the number of workers already on the job, or who are likely to be recruited to dismantle the reactors. The project proposed by Toshiba to close down and safeguard the reactors would take at least 10 years.3 In short, the state’s concern appears to be less the health of employees and more the cost of caring for nuclear victims. The same logic prevailed when, on April 23, the government urged children back to the schools of Fukushima prefecture, stating that the risk of 20 mSv or more per year was acceptable, despite the high vulnerability of children.  Can the state be prioritizing the limitation of the burden of compensation for TEPCO and protection of the nuclear industry at large over the health of workers and children?…….http://japanfocus.org/-Japan-Focus/3523

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