The Wall Street Journal has reprinted some messages exchanged on 23 March between TEPCO workers regarding the conditions under which they are struggling to contain the problems at the Fukushima I and II nuclear plants. They are heartbreaking reflections on drastic courage. If you pray, remember these brave people in your prayers. Remember them, even if you don't pray. They are all that stands between us and disaster. They have been working incessantly since the earthquake on 11 March to stabilize the nuclear crisis. Incidentally, Fukushima (福島市) means good fortune island; let's hope that the place lives up to its name.
What follows below is quoted directly from the WSJ and all credit for translation and reporting belongs to them. Note that the report does not fully clarify where the writers are referring to Fukushima I (the Dai-ichi plant) which is where the major problems are occurring - or to Fukushima II (the Dai-ni plant), which has been shut down. But even then, at the Fukushima II Dai-ni plant, one worker died in a crane accident on 13 March and four others were injured, which tells you how desperate conditions are.
This is [name removed] at the Fukushima Daini plant. I met you a few times at some meetings in the past.
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 felt reassured to receive such a supportive message from [name removed]. Though we’re still in the middle of our fight, we feel a little relieved to know we have the support from a person like [name removed].
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.
Please watch out for the hidden strength of nuclear power. I’ll make sure we will make a recovery.
I’d like to ask you to continue to support us.
Thank you very much.
I read your e-mail to me.
(What you wrote) is what I had imagined. But at a loss for words, I could only be overwhelmed with tears.
But as a person living in Tokyo enjoying electricity, there is no time to waste by simply crying.
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.
But everyone here pays respect and has lowered their head to pray for those who are facing the brunt of it and fighting on the front lines surrounded by enemies.
Although I am not in a position to say such a thing, I beg you to hang in there.
What I can do for you is limited. But when the time comes, we will take our turn to protect you all. Without fail.
Thank you for your hard work.
I’m sure you are too busy at the disaster unit’s headquarters to look at emails. But I’d like to pass on the current situation at the plants.
We at the plants have been working on restoration work without sleep or rest since the earthquake. About two weeks have passed since the quake, and things have gotten better at 1F (Note — possible reference to Fukushima Plant No. 1, or Daiichi). We wish the cooling efforts will continue to work.
As you know, most of the workers at 1F and 2F (Note — possible reference to Fukushima Plant No. 2, or Daini) are local residents and victims of the quake. There are many workers whose houses were washed away.
I myself have had to stay in the disaster measurement headquarters the entire time ever since the earthquake occurred, and have been fighting alongside my colleagues without any sleep or rest. Personally, my entire hometown, Namie-machi, which is located along the coast, was washed away by the tsunami. My parents were washed away by the tsunami and I still don’t know where they are. Normally I would rush to their house as soon as I could. But I can’t even enter the area because it is under an evacuation order. The Self-Defense Forces are not conducting a search there. I’m engaged in extremely tough work under this kind of mental condition … I can’t take this any more!
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.
Everyone is away from their hometown and does not know when they can return. We don’t know who to turn to and direct our concern and anger. This is the current reality.
As the new school year starts, local children will have to transfer to schools in their places of refuge. Everyone has lost everything — their home, their job, their school, their friends, their families. Who could stand this reality? I would beg you to share this reality with people inside and outside the company.
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.
But we are all working hard to complete our tasks as Tepco employees, before thinking of ourselves as disaster victims.
Workers on the second floor in particular were having a tough time. They had to support colleagues on the first floor, who were engaged in restoration work, while ensuring the safety of their own plants. The scene is completely like a war zone.
All the employees are working to their limit, both mentally and physically. Please understand that.
The company may get rid of nuclear power to save the company, but we will fight until the end. I beg you to give us continuous support from the headquarters.
WSJ UPDATE: The translation of references to the plants as 1F and 2F has been revised in the last email.
Is nuclear fusion the power source that could offer an alternative to that provided by today's current nuclear plants? This is an artist's imagining of a nuclear fusion plant. Nuclear Fusion NRG (2011) © by Tobasco-Raremaster. Reproduced with kind permission.