As the world watches the radiation-seeping Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear plant, the Tokyo Electric Power Company workers frantically trying to stabilize the reactors have been hailed as heroes for their courageous sacrifices. Once called the "Fukushima 50," their ranks have now swelled to--by one count--about 300 strong. But so far we have heard very little from the workers themselves.
Last week, we highlighted the first translated blog posting from one of the plant workers, Michiko Otsuki. "In the midst of the tsunami alarm...at 3am in the night when we couldn't even see where we going, we carried on working to restore the reactors from where we were, right by the sea, with the realisation that this could be certain death," Otsuki wrote, according to the Straits Times.
The Wall Street Journal has now published additional email exchanges between two TEPCO employees (names removed); one who was stationed at the "Fukushima Daini plant near the stricken Fukushima Daiichi reactors and the other a Tokyo-based Tepco employee."
Like Otsuki's blog posting, both note the "frustrating anger" from Japanese citizens concerning the Tokyo Electric Power Company's handling of the ever-evolving situation, and display a firm resolve to do whatever it takes to stabilize the plant. Here are a few excerpts concerning TEPCO from the three emails (read the full version here):
- Excerpt From Employee 1's (at Fukushima Daini) Email: "I’m happy to receive an e-mail from you. I had written in hopes that many people would understand the situation in the field ... I just wanted people to understand that there are many people fighting under harsh circumstances in the nuclear plants. That is all I want. Crying is useless. If we’re in hell now all we can do is to crawl up towards heaven."
- Excerpted Response From Employee 2 (in Tokyo): "People in Tokyo are scrambling due to the planned blackout and stockpiling supplies, alternately acting at ease then worried over the spread of radioactive materials. I can only think this situation is strange. I feel frustrating anger across the nation pointing to Tepco. I suspect Tepco executives feel it well enough."
- Excerpted Response from Employee 1 (at Fukushima Daini): "The quake is a natural disaster. But Tepco should be blamed for contamination caused by the radioactive materials released from the nuclear plants. It seems to me local residents’ feelings are heightened so much that the unspoken sentiment is that the quake occurred because of Tepco ... I’m not saying workers at the nuclear plants are bad! I’m not saying anyone is bad! But most workers in the plants are local residents. All of us, including myself, are victims of the disaster."
Pictured above: from the first photos obtained of the inside of the Fukushima plant. A worker in the control room for units 1 and 2 looks at the gauges (via Associated Press Images).