It is the Guardian that inspired my thoughts today. They come slightly easy as I was naughty/desperate enough to skip my medication last two days for a law essay (sorry doc!), so I actually feel awake today. It was the article “Plummeting morale at Fukushima Daiichi as nuclear clean-up takes its toll” (at http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/oct/15/fukushima-nuclear-power-plant-cleanup) that is the fuel for my inner fire today.
I covered part in my blog ‘Glowing in the Dark‘ on world animal day (not the worst date for upper management of TEPCO). The Guardian, of course always loaded with good reporters, touched on a part I had not looked at before. (Those reporters do cheat as they got to go to Japan). The moral issue, especially in light of the 20% pay cut the TEPCO workers took. Which is interesting considering that the company still made 4.5 billion last year (according to their own presentation, linked in the other blog). So, almost 4% leaves, rest working on 20% less, in a country that is expensive to begin with. And morale issues were not predicted? Hah!
I still remember my old days of learning and the exercises from the Dutch 101 NBC Decontamination Company. I still remember the wash streets and so on. I might actually make some decent pay over there, and if I start to glow in the dark, I can personally cut back on electricity costs.
But in all seriousness, the 4% the workers lost and the cut backs they face, TEPCO has more hard times ahead. If they keep on being this careless with their options, more people will walk out and it would make it possible for competitors of TEPCO to walk in. Even though the site JapanToday stated ‘TEPCO too big to be allowed to fail‘, we should seriously consider that future. Even though it is disastrous to consider the short term effects of a failing TEPCO, the issue does remain that too many acts by the high board of TEPCO is in my humble view too much about rolling out ‘gracefully’ with a golden Geisha instead of fixing it all, is cause for major alarms. If Japan wants to fix this, then perhaps it needs to take another approach, one that is actually in line with the old ways of Japan and very much a proven strategy. I do believe that, at times the old ways remain the best. Allow the new hungry Chubu to walk in and get 50% of TEPCO, they must in return accept the cleaning burden (with government financial support) and the government should use the other half, for now in government hands to keep it all rolling and to slowly hand off to the other power brokers as to not upset the balance of energy. It would also create a competitive edge in Tokyo allowing for energy prices to remain competitively low. So, like the Dutch did with SNS Reaal, just nationalise TEPCO overnight and change the locks.
The comforting kicker? Make a mandatory sentence to the TEPCO board of directors of no less than 2 year serving in this troubled era to serve as junior consultants for Chubu at 1 yen a week, a public way to saying to these boards that what they did was utterly unacceptable.
You see I have a few issues with the article in the Guardian, not on the Guardian side; they did roll out an excellent article. But consider the following quotes: “Another worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he had seen hungover colleagues collapse with heatstroke just minutes after beginning work.” and “In the long term, Tepco and its partner companies will struggle to find enough people with specialist knowledge to see decommissioning through to the end, according to Yukiteru Naka”
If we look at this statement in regards to the previous two “For Tepco, money is the top priority – nuclear technology and safety come second and third. That’s why the accident happened”
From those three statements I see a strategy grow. If you cannot walk away from a situation, then make sure the system collapses on itself. It is my personal view that this is what is happening. The pressures, hardship and the continued drive without moral care is exactly what will happen if no fast change is made. In the end, my bank account would love the idea of me going over there as a senior consultant, but in all honesty, if the Japanese government does indeed want this all fixed, and preferably long before 40 years, then an entirely different approach will be needed. This view is actually supported by Ian Fairlie, a London-based independent consultant on radioactivity in the environment gives voice that TEPCO is not convinced the current situation is genuinely voiced by TEPCO (as mentioned by the Guardian). He sees a system that hides behind pride. Even Japanese government officials are considered less than welcome, if we can believe the information we could all openly read. I see, not a company claiming in pride that they can do this. I see a worried and scared board of directors, wondering what skeletons will show when outsiders will dig into their systems. If the Japanese government and the world gets to see more then the mere glimmer I saw, they will turn around and publicly obliterate these members. The two years that followed the disaster shows gaps on several layers. The 20% cut was the biggest of all errors, they should have given those people in Fukushima a 10% raise and add mental health consultants. This would have fired them up to be motivated to be long term members of a clean it up team.
Perhaps that is the worst of the nightmares for the TEPCO directors, not that it must be cleaned, but that after the cleaning is done, it will become empty land with no value to use. Spending fortunes into a land that will serve the future, not the present, that is the fear of greed and it is too visible in this case.