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US Workers Join International Team Tackling Japan’s Nuclear Crisis

Who’s willing to kiss their family goodbye and fly halfway around the world into a radioactive cauldron, toiling at 12-hour shifts in potentially life-threatening conditions and surviving on emergency rations, all in the hopes of saving Japan from nuclear disaster?

More people than you might think.

Nuclear workers from the United States, France and other countries are heading to Japan to take part in the frantic operation to stop more radiation from spewing out of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. Three weeks after a 9.0-magnitude quake destabilized the plant and sent a tsunami rushing through it, some 400 Japanese nuclear workers are living and working at the facility, and an unknown number of foreigners are joining them. There’s even an American recruiting firm taking applications from people who want to go.

“About two weeks ago, we told our managers to put together a wish list of anyone interested in going to Japan,” Joe Melanson, a recruiter at Bartlett Nuclear, a Massachusetts staffing firm that specializes in nuclear industry jobs. The first batch of American workers are setting off for Japan on Sunday, he said.

Besides having nuclear experience on your resume, “the only requirement was that you have a valid passport,” Melanson said.

The gig also earns big pay, though the exact salary for a monthlong trip to Japan hasn’t been made public.

And the workers’ assignments once they land in Japan are largely unknown. Officials from the Tokyo Electric Power Co., which runs the Fukushima plant, are commanding the relief efforts, and foreign workers will go in under their ultimate command. Jobs include water purification experts, radiation monitors and spent-fuel specialists.

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Posted by on April 1, 2011 in World News

 

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