Moreover, evacuees are required to undergo radiation tests and confirm that they have not been exposed to radiation before being admitted to some shelters in F**ushima Prefecture.
Experts have criticized the situation, claiming that these cases are overreactions based on groundless prejudice.
Takayuki Okamura, 49, a company employee who is taking shelter in F**ushima, said a medical institution in the city refused to treat his 8-year-old daughter's skin inflammation on March 24.
The institution cited the lack of a certificate that she has not been exposed to radiation as the reason. The Okamuras had lived in Haramachi Ward, Minamisoma, F**ushima Prefecture, within a radius of 20-30 kilometers from the F**ushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant where residents have been advised to flee.
His daughter's condition improved after she took medicine bought at a drugstore.
"Just being forced to live at a shelter gives us anxiety. The institution's refusal to treat my daughter came as a great shock to us," Okamura says.
The F**ushima Prefectural Government began on March 13 to conduct radiation screening tests on evacuees from areas near the nuclear plant at 13 locations.
On March 17, F**ushima Prefecture started to issue certificates on the radiation test results under the name of the prefectural government's disaster task force in order to reassure the test subjects. However, the documents are being used to judge whether the evacuees can be admitted to shelters or receive treatment at medical institutions.
The manager of an evacuation center set up at Azuma sports park in F**ushima -- where approximately 1,300 people are staying -- has required evacuees since March 17 to show such certificates to be admitted to the center. They are also required to put badges on their clothes, showing that they have undergone radiation screening tests, at all times when they are staying at the shelter. The center manager also obligates those who have temporarily returned to their homes near the nuclear plant to undergo screening again before being readmitted to the center.
The manager defended the practice. "We began the system in response to concerns expressed by many evacuees about radiation contamination. We believe the measure is necessary to dispel concern among evacuees."
The managers of some other evacuation centers also require evacuees to undergo radiation screening before being admitted to the facilities.
When asked to comment on the way the certificates are being used, the F**ushima Prefectural Government's regional medical services division said it had no choice but to issue them to protect evacuees' interests.
"We began the practice in response to concerns voiced by many evacuees about radiation contamination. Even though the practice caused some confusion, we have no choice but to continue issuing certificates because more evacuees benefit from them than those who suffer disadvantages," said an official with the division.
However, a public health center manager in Minamisoma is furious about the city being regarded as a contaminated area.
"We've conducted radiation screening tests on more than 8,000 people but none of them needed to be decontaminated," said Kenji Sasahara, head of the Soso Health Center. "It's unreasonable that Minamisoma is treated as if it were the sole contaminated area."
Professor Koichi Tanigawa, who heads Hiroshima University Hospital's Advanced Emergency and Critical Care Center, warns of overreactions to the crisis at the nuclear power plant.
"It's impossible that radiation exceeding the upper limit set by government standards is detected in anybody except those engaged in special work at nuclear power plants. It's outrageous that evacuees can't get necessary medical care," he said. "I'd like organizations concerned to refrain from overreacting to the nuclear crisis."
News Source:Daily Mainichi
Emergency workers struggle under harsh conditions to control crippled nuke plant
Workers are pictured at the F**ushima No. 1 Nuclear
Power Plant on March 23. (Photograph courtesy of the
Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency)
Hundreds of emergency workers have been battling under harsh conditions to try to put the ailing F**ushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant under control, a top inspector from the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said on March 28.
"The working environment is very tough," said Kazuma Yokota, head of the nuclear facility inspection office overseeing the nuclear power plant, who visited the nuclear facility on March 22 for the first time since the deadly March 11 earthquake and tsunami and stayed there for five days. He said about 400 workers were engaged in restoration efforts there.
They sleep in the "key earthquake-proof building" near the reactor building. Because there is 2-10 microsieverts of radiation in the building, the floor is covered with a sheet containing lead that blocks out radiation.
They have two meals a day: about 30 biscuits and vegetable juice drinks each in the morning; and boil-in-the-bag rice and a can of food each in the evening. Shortly after the disaster broke out, there was only one bottle (1.5 liters) of drinking water available per person per day.
The workers put on protective gear and full-face masks to protect themselves from radiation. After meetings in the evening, they wrap themselves in blankets and sleep together in a huddle in the meeting room or the hall of the building.
A bus carrying food and other materials comes to the key earthquake-proof building twice a day. Replacement workers also use this bus. "Some workers are complaining about the fact that they can't change their underwear. Because meals are sources of energy needed to carry out their work, we are considering taking steps to bring more food there," Yokota said.