Technicians stayed behind, exposing themselves to dangerous radiation, to keep hundreds of gallons of seawater flowing over the three damaged reactors at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station after last year’s disaster. Days later Japan’s Health ministry raised the legal amount of radiation exposure for the workers to five times that permitted for American nuclear plant workers. It took from March until December to stabilize the plant.
Researchers continue to assess the physical impacts on plant workers, but few studies have been done to examine the mental toll. The results of a survey this month by Japanese researchers from National Defense Medical College and National Defense Medical College aimed to measure that. They found that most workers from the Fukushima Daiichi plant have experienced some type of psychological distress since the disaster.
The survey, Psychological Distress in Workers at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plants, took responses from 1,000 workers from the Daiichi plant and 700 from another plant that was damaged but didn’t experience a meltdown. Most workers experience psychological distress “including feeling nervous, hopeless, restless/fidgety, depressed and worthless.”
“About 47 percent of Daiichi workers reported psychological distress, compared with 37 percent of Daini plant workers, while 30 percent of Daiichi workers had signs of post-traumatic stress, compared with 19 percent of Daini workers,” Jenifer Goodwin of HealthDay reports.