Why Don't The Japanese Do This? (For Nuclear Disaster)?

You have to admire the men who volunteered to work on cleaning up the damaged Fukushima reactors-but why not do this?
Pay a bunch of 55 year old guys to do the work-they probably won’t experience any significant shortening of their lifespans, and reproduction isn’t an issue when you are over 55.
Pay them $300,000/year, and let them enjoy their final years.Odds are that you won’t develop cancer (from radiation exposure) for 15-20 years afterwards-so the risks would be less than for younger men.
Why not?

It sounds reasonable but maybe it’s not practical. How dangerous is it, really? Could there be more explosions? I think the risk isn’t just death from radiation poisoning in 15-20 years – it might be much more immediate. Didn’t one of the workers get burns on his feet from radioactive material?

I’d gladly do something noble and dangerous if the only risk was death 15-20 years in the future, but I’m not sure that’s the case at Fukushima.

First of all you don’t want unskilled labour in there. People who don’t know what they are doing are both at a higher level of risk and are more likely to cause problems than fix them.

Second you damn well be offering more than 30k a year to someone you’re openly acknowledging that you’re shortening their life span. (er… ignore this apparently I missed a zero when reading)

Thirdly - most 55yr olds are already aware of their mortality and are too smart to bring it on faster without a hell of a reason.

I saw reports on CNN of older Japanese workers volunteering to help in containing the disaster for that reason and I don’t think they were paid any huge amount for it. I don’t know if they were talked into it either but they weren’t forced. Basically, some people already thought along the same lines you are and decided that they were either at less long-term risk or more expendable than younger workers.

Yip. I learned they were doing this from this very message board.

I still admire them for their dedication, but I see this as somewhat expected.

They are nuclear plant operators. Who else do they think is going to keep things working?

I just kind of see it as part of the job. This is part of what they are expected to do when they signed up. When the crap hits the fan, they are not supposed to hop in their cars and drive away as fast as possible while cute little girls (who don’t know how to operate a nuclear plant) stand there holding teddy bears get irradiated by a runaway reaction.

It is just like signing up to be a police officer, a soldier, or a security guard. You are in charge of handling a very serious thing (public safety or a nuclear power plant) and as the trained expert, you are kind of expected to take the hit to make sure public safety is maintained.

It’s one of those strange dichotomies. If they run away and let everything melt down and kill tons of people, they would be the most vilified people on earth. If they stay and minimize the damage, they are heroes. There is strangely no middle ground.

Once again, I admire their dedication and I am glad they are doing the right thing, but I am a little baffled that other people seem surprised by this.

This article says that some men are being offered 5,000 dollars a day to work in high risk areas. They are also rotating men from other plants to minimize the exposure per person.


As someone who’s already past age 55, thanks a lot.

Maybe we’d like to live another 40 years, yell at kids and bankrupt Social Security.

Why limit it to men? Women over 55 are equally, maybe even more unlikely to reproduce.

I know you are kidding in a way but the idea isn’t just to let older workers soak up radiation and die because they don’t have anything to live for. Radiation exposure increases the risk of a lifetime incidence of certain cancers and can be over a very long period so an older worker has less chance of ever getting cancer from the exposure as opposed to someone in their twenties. The idea is that the incidence of cancer from it is reduced overall by using older people. That won’t work if they get exposed to massive doses and die of acute radiation exposure or develop cancer quickly but using older workers should reduce the total number of cancer cases in the long-term.

From an article with excerpts from “voices from Chernobyl”:


I do recommend anyone believing 51 people died from that accident, read this brief article.

Begging the OP’s pardon, but 55-year-olds are still young enough to have kids, and do not spend their lives sitting around waiting for a visit by the Angel of Death. At 55, a cancer that develops in 15-20 years is still a very real problem. A person’s worth is not measured by his ability to reproduce, nor by his life expectancy.

I would do it in a heartbeat, except for the small issue that I can’t physically do the work any longer, I would have to gimp in on crutches, and do everything seated. I would end up losing the inside crutches and wheelchair to decon whenever the count gets too high. I could bag the ones I use to gimp in and out, but at $50 a set for crutches, and a couple thousand per chair would get expensive.

Not to mention there wouldn’t be a lot I could actually do seated in a chair.

Wasn’t one of the folks who died of acute radiation poisoning at Chernobyl an older guy who walked through the cooling fluid multiple times to spare his younger crew members a fatal dose?