Japanese workers who are “not afraid to die” are struggling to head off a nuclear disaster at the stricken Fukushima reactors in an effort some are calling a “suicide mission.”
On Wednesday, 180 workers bravely headed back to the plant to pump water onto the over-heating reactors. They have been rotating in shifts of 50 men, nicknamed the “Fukushima Fifty.”
The workers had been pulled back, but they “later headed back into the reactor for difficult and dangerous work, wearing radiation suits and gas masks or oxygen tanks that provide little protection from the invisible radiation rays bombarding their bodies,” Britain’s Daily mail reported.
A source in contact with the emergency teams told CBS they were “not afraid to die” as they fight to stave off a meltdown.
Dr. Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist, told ABC News: “We’re very close now to the point of no return. It’s gotten worse. We’re talking about workers coming into the reactor perhaps as a suicide mission and we may have to abandon ship.”
Describing the workers’ efforts, The New York Times reported: “They crawl through labyrinths of equipment in utter darkness pierced only by their flashlights.
“They breathe through uncomfortable respirators or carry heavy oxygen tanks on their backs. They wear white, full-body jumpsuits with snug-fitting hoods that provide scant protection from the invisible radiation sleeting through their bodies.
“They have volunteered, or been assigned, to pump seawater on dangerously exposed nuclear fuel.”
David Lochbaum, a nuclear safety expert with the Union of Concerned scientists, also said the workers could be on a suicide mission. He told National Public radio that radiation levels at some locations in the reactors “would be high enough that you would receive a lethal dose in something like 16 seconds.”
And Dr. Chandon Guha, a radiation expert at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, said of the reactor workers: “These are heroes.”
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