The Japanese government has decided to allow RERF (Radiation Effects Research Foundation) to do an epidemiological study on the workers from Fukushima Daiichi. This would be a study only, it would not include giving them any needed medical care. RERF is an incarnation of the A-bomb commission that investigated the human damage from the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and is run jointly by the US and Japan.
“The Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC) was a commission established in 1946 in accordance with a presidential directive from Harry S. Truman to theNational Academy of Sciences–National Research Council to conduct investigations of the late effects of radiation among the atomic-bomb survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As it was erected purely for scientific research and study, not as a provider of medical care and also because it was heavily supported by the United States, the ABCC was generally mistrusted by most survivors and Japanese alike. It operated for nearly thirty years before its dissolution in 1975.” (via Wikipedia)
Some of the complaints about the ABCC were that people would have to lose a day’s pay in order to attend the examinations at the commission offices. This same complaint was cited among the Fukushima Daiichi workers, they also would not be compensated for their time for a study that does not personally benefit them. There could also be issues with submitting to the study where it could negatively impact a worker’s future filing for workers compensation for long term injuries related to their work at the plant.
41,170 workers have worked at the plant between the 2011 disaster and January of 2015. Many of the workers who responded during those first days and weeks of the disaster did not have dosimeters on them to record their radiation exposure. Due to the widespread disaster and chaos, many never received proper radiation screenings or scans during the time frame where their internal exposures could be recorded. There were also many reported instances of workers ditching their dosimeter to go do high exposure work. They feared they would hit their exposure maximum quickly and then be out of work with no further compensation after they could no longer work at the plant. All of this created a problem where many of the early responders do not have an accurate exposure record. This could cause problems for any study of workers and their exposures.
Many workers have received information packets from RERF, urging them to participate in the agency’s scientific research. 2000 workers were targeted, only 704 of them responded to the request (35%). RERF hopes to eventually examine 20,000 workers who were at the plant between March and December 2011.
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