Elderly Engineers Volunteer for Fukushima Duty

"Us older ones have less chance of getting cancer."

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Like the liquidators at Chernobyl, workers at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant continue to be exposed to high levels of radiation as they stabilize reactors. In what seems like every account we read, the teams have come to terms with  possibility of death from radiation sickness. One retired, Japanese engineer has taken to heart these sacrifices, but thinks the Fukushima burden should be tasked to an older generation--his own.

For the past several weeks, a group of elderly pensioners, the Skilled Veterans Corps, have been promoting themselves as the "logical" workforce to be sent to Fukushima. In interviews with the AFP and BBC News, the roughly 200 engineers and former atomic plant workers have volunteered their services to take the place of the some of estimated 1,000 people stationed at the plant. "Even if I were exposed to radiation, cancer could take 20 or 30 years or longer to develop. Therefore us older ones have less chance of getting cancer," the groups organizer Yasuteru Yamada (pictured), told the BBC.

The gesture has yet to be commented on by the plant's often-criticized owner and operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company. And, oddly, the reporters covering the Veterans Corps keep trying to link their generous efforts to the suicidal-WWII Kamikaze pilots: both the AFP and BBC News asked the members if they saw an association. Yamada just brushed off the comparison: "We are not kamikaze. The kamikaze were something strange, no risk management there."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.