"...pilots, a type of engineer, if you will, make mistakes when exhausted."
Just about ANYONE makes mistakes when exhausted. But sometimes a job needs doing and you're the only person around who can do it, and these guys certainly stepped up. Hats off to them all.
I'm very concerned since exhaustion is one of the main issues that pilots must avoid. Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers points out the need for rest. If there is any way we can relieve them so that they can better work out current plans and plans B and C, I hope they will implement them.
Everyone brings up valid points. I want to send thoughts and prayers for the Tepco and contractor workers and their families. I hope we will find out what Tepco and the contracting companies are doing to help relieve the exhausted workers. Does the WHO or CDC have guidelines or procedures to pass along to them? Is there any way we can switch out workers with some robots so that they can work remotely? In addition to honoring the 50 who are working tirelessly, I truly hope they find a solution to this ongoing issue.
From the 2008 report on "Health effects due to radiation from the Chernobyl accident" produced by UNSCEAR (United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation):
The observed health effects currently attributable to radiation exposure are as follows:
- 134 plant staff and emergency workers received high doses of radiation that resulted in acute radiation syndrome (ARS), many of whom also incurred
skin injuries due to beta irradiation;
- The high radiation doses proved fatal for 28 of these people;
- While 19 ARS survivors have died up to 2006, their deaths have been for various reasons, and usually not associated with radiation exposure;
- Other than this group of emergency workers, several hundred thousand people were involved in recovery
operations, but to date, apart from indications of an increase in the incidence of leukaemia and cataracts
among those who received higher doses, there is no evidence of health effects that can be attributed to radiation exposure;
- The contamination of milk with 131I, for which prompt countermeasures were lacking, resulted in large doses to the thyroids of members of the general
public; this led to a substantial fraction of the more than 6,000 thyroid cancers observed to date among people who were children or adolescents at the time of the accident (by 2005, 15 cases had proved fatal);
- To date, there has been no persuasive evidence of any other health effect in the general population that can be attributed to radiation exposure.
If I understood correctly only 4 died from the Chernobyl radiation and according to estimates a maximum of 4K will die from the related radiation (cancer, etc..). I would expect that the type and rate of exposure would be a major factor in the lethality. In any event, those brave souls are to be commended for their heroism and dedication to both their company and their countrymen!
Frankly, I have not heard of the figures pixies mentioned here. The press reports coming from Japan say that so far nobody has died of radiation in Fukushima Nuclear Power Station, after the latest tsunami/quake.
On-site personnel will always be needed. What happens when the comm links go down? What happens when the remote sensors fail? How would you rig a work-around? Robots could do this stuff in the distant future, but for now....
It is sort of like the times when we would be asked to see who could set aside all thoughts of self-preservation and head out on a mission. Most of us would come back, and we would have accomplished the mission. Sometimes the mission is clearly going to save a lot of other folks who can't possibly do what you are going to do.
I sincerely salute those doing this work, I hope "that they all come back".