What would you do for $2,500 a day? How about $5,000 a day? Do you have “a passport, a family willing to let you go”, and a “willingness to to work in a radioactive zone”? Then you could have what it takes to work at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, and even become a “jumper”, a highly paid individual who rushes into a radioactive area, performs a task, and quickly returns to safety before absorbing a dangerous dose of radioactivity.
Reuters is reporting that TEPCO, the Tokyo Electric Power Company which owns the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, is offering workers exorbitant amounts of money in a bid to persuade them to help stabilize the reactors damaged in the March earthquake and tsunami. Some workers report being offered 200,000 yen ($2,500) a day, for what amounts to only an hour of work on the reactor.
“Ordinarily I’d consider that a dream job, but my wife was in tears and stopped me, so I declined,” said (an) unidentified worker who is in his 30s, “The working time would be less than an hour, so in fact it was 200,000 yen an hour, but the risk was too big.”
Another worker, Ryuta Fujita, 27, was offered twice that amount, but declined, citing fears of radiation and the need to provide for his wife and 3-year old son, “I hear that guys older than 50 are being hired at high pay,” Fujita told the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper.
According to Tokyo Shinbun, some workers are feeling pressured to return to work. Normally robots would handle the more dangerous work of cleanup in contaminated areas, but the Fukushima sites are so strewn with debris as to make robot use impracticable.
Meanwhile, a US recruiter is looking for experienced nuclear personnel to assume highly paid positions in Japan. Bartlett Nuclear, based in Plymouth, Massachusetts is seeking engineers and other specialists. These people would not be so-called “jumpers”, but rather “senior technicians and engineers who have come up through the ranks”.
The workers would be stationed in Tokyo, commuting the 300 miles to the plant in Fukushima Prefecture. Ten workers have been signed on already and leave for Japan on Saturday. Specific salary information for these positions was not available.
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
Raw Story is a progressive news site that focuses on stories often ignored in the mainstream media. While giving coverage to the big stories of the day, we also bring our readers' attention to policy, politics, legal and human rights stories that get ignored in an infotainment culture driven solely by pageviews.
Founded in 2004, Raw Story reaches 9 million unique readers per month and serves more than 30 million pageviews.