An employee of a TEPCO subcontractor worked at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on Aug. 3 without wearing a personal dosimeter as required, The Asahi Shimbun has learned.
The finding comes on the heels of an earlier revelation by The Asahi Shimbun in July that some subcontractor workers were told to shield their dosimeters with lead plates to falsify their readings of radiation levels at the Fukushima plant in December. Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant operator, had said it will take measures to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents.
The worker in question is a man in his 20s working for a second-tier subcontractor. He did piping work on the southwest side of the No. 4 reactor building, a task that TEPCO had assigned to Tokyo Energy and Systems Inc., a TEPCO group company.
The man joined the task team on Aug. 3 and worked from around 7 a.m. until slightly past 11 a.m. on that day, according to officials at both TEPCO and Tokyo Energy and Systems.
All workers are supposed to borrow dosimeters from TEPCO before starting work, but the first-tier subcontractor for Tokyo Energy and Systems only borrowed enough dosimeters for its own employees, not those of the second-tier subcontractor.
The man in question came up when the day's work was over and said he had worked without wearing a dosimeter.
"I was absent-minded because I haven't had enough sleep, and I forgot to borrow a dosimeter," the officials quoted the man as explaining.
According to Shinji Shiina, head of the general affairs division at Tokyo Energy and Systems, the worker in question has worked at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant since June this year. His accumulated radiation dosage level was approaching an in-house limit, so Tokyo Energy and Systems had told him he will no longer be allowed to work at the Fukushima plant from around Aug. 10, Shiina said.
Junichi Matsumoto, acting general director of TEPCO's Nuclear Power and Plant Siting Division, admitted during a news conference on Aug. 3 that there was a loophole in the safety management system. He said the latest revelation constituted a "serious problem" and said there had been similar instances in the past.
The number of past cases has yet to be established, Matsumoto said.
The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare plans to look into the case to investigate any loopholes in the safety management system.
(This article was written by Miki Aoki and Jun Sato.)
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