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10 Germans flee Japan's quake-hit nuclear plant

The Local · 13 Mar 2011, 11:13

Published: 13 Mar 2011 11:13 GMT+01:00

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The technicians were working in a building housing reactor 4, which had already been shut off before the quake hit, Bild am Sonntag reported. A massive explosion occurred around reactor 1, increasing the risk of a nuclear meltdown and radiation leaks.

"They left the power plant immediately after the earthquake and fled further inland," Areva spokesman Mathias Schuch told the paper. "All 10 are healthy and doing fine."

Schuch said the company is in communication with the men through business partners in Japan and added that employees' relatives have been contacted. Areva has requested help from the Federal Foreign Office in procuring a plane to fly the men home.

"We are doing everything in our power to work together with the embassy and the Federal Foreign Office to bring all employees home to their families in Germany as soon as possible."

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has called on all German nationals in regions affected by the catastrophe in Japan to leave. He said about 100 Germans live in those areas, with some 5,000 total located across Japan.

Westerwelle noted there had been no indications that Germans were hurt due to Friday's earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

Meanwhile, a German aid team from the Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) arrived in Japan early Sunday morning. The aircraft with 38 workers, three search dogs and 12 tonnes of equipment on board left Frankfurt's Hahn Airport Saturday afternoon.

The plane's departure was delayed by nearly one hour in order to obtain dosimeters to measure radiation exposure, following the explosion at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant.

Story continues below…

The team will mostly aid efforts to locate and rescue survivors buried beneath the rubble of collapsed buildings. THW president Albrecht Broemme said the team would not be sent to work in areas affected by potential radiation leaks.

DAPD/The Local/arp

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

11:55 March 13, 2011 by auniquecorn
"They left the power plant immediately after the earthquake and fled further inland," "All 10 are healthy and doing fine."

Great, What about your professional ethics?

You guys are Sh!t for technicians. I bet the Japanese Techs stayed behind to keep control and monitor the situation.

And thats only MY opinion.
12:40 March 13, 2011 by pftgu0
@1 post

it's easy to say this from your warm and save home thousand of miles away.
14:30 March 13, 2011 by appocalypto
they know only two things

either Invade or Evade :D
15:23 March 13, 2011 by rutledm

I can see the large L painted on your forehead from here.
15:25 March 13, 2011 by marimyon18
hi, I'm living in Tokyo, Japanese, and watching the news carefully.. in Tokyo we can do nothing, just watch and pray for the people in the Northern area.. this is devastating..

Tokyo and other parts of Japan is also suffering from afterquakes, happening very frequently since this 2 days..

First quake was so strong even in Tokyo, I even thought "this might be my last day.." things are scattered aroung in our offices/homes..

For the German friends living in Japan, I am so happy to hear that they evacuated very safely, early enough. There's no such thing as "being too safe" or "being too careful" we Japanese say.. and I believe all the Japanese people will be as happy as me too about the evacuation of your people. I am so glad. Noone will accuse anything about it. This situation is just beyond perception, for normal people here..

Its said that we might have another M7 level quake within 72 hours.. 70% possibility.

Workers are still trying to fix problem at Fukushima Nuclear Plant.. my hands are shaking as I type this..

Only thing I can do right now is tell other people how we are terrified and scared.. and find anything what we can do for the people at the site..

I wasn't pro- or against Nuclear power before.. we young Japanese generation have/had the luxury to NOT even think about the worst risks of having Nuclear Plant in our country.. but now hoping this accident will highly alert all of us to think again very hard about this power force, and discuss well about it..

Please pray good for us.. We can only pray as we speak...

We are getting messages from all around the world, via FB and all.. and it is very very heartwarming.

Thank you for the comments and attention.. I appreciate it, we all appreciate it. :)
16:05 March 13, 2011 by Beachrider
It is good to keep the Japanese people in your thoughts and prayers at this critical time. If you are in position to do anything to help, they need your action, as well.

The biggest difference between the world of 1911 and the world of 2011 is that we have interwoven with one another in very important ways. For some, by marriage, for others by work, for others by agreement. It is important to help one another when there is trouble like this.

I don't see why there would be any derisive comments about response yet. That time will come much later.
16:39 March 13, 2011 by appocalypto

pity that you dont have a sens of humor as strong as your eye sight ....
01:12 March 14, 2011 by wood artist
According to the article, they were conducting "maintenance work." Unless what they were doing was important to the immediate situation, the smartest thing would be to get them out of the area. They wouldn't be involved in any further actions or decisions, and would simply become 10 more potential casualties should something go wrong.

To accuse them of fleeing and neglecting their responsibilities to the public may well be completely and utterly without foundation. Would you keep the janitor there, because the plant might melt down? Not likely. Only those involved in the actual operation of the plant should remain.

I think the criticism is completely without foundation, and mean-spirited to boot. Hundreds of people have died, and likely many more will be found dead in the coming days. On the surface, these 10 did nothing wrong, and had no part to play in the decisions being made then or now.

03:13 March 14, 2011 by Mh0926
We sincerely request your prayer for Japan, including Miyagi, Iwate, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Aomori Prefecture victims to have the best relief and resettlement, and all friends who are waiting to be rescued. We hope those trapped in the inferno Kesennuma City and inundated Sendai city, there are more miracles founded during the rescue.

We pray that aftershocks will be subsided immediately; no other tsunami, flooding, landslides, avalanches, caused by aftershocks, and will rapidly get resource for repairing damaged road, bridge, traffic chaos ..., all can be back to normal in the shortest possible time.

We pray the Fukushima nuclear plant radiation leak can be minimized, the impact might be worse than we can imagine.

As reported the tsunami warning was issued for more than twenty countries and the Pacific islands, in particular circum-Pacific belt, including Taiwan and other places in coming few days, Taiwan people¦#39;s hearts go with our Japan friends.
03:38 March 14, 2011 by DrStrangelove
Wood artist got it right. Real life is a tad different from Tom Cruise movies.
09:48 March 14, 2011 by freechoice
I subscribe to earthquake notification, and Honshu is getting Mag 5-6 earthquake every few minutes.

Oh God have mercy on Japan.
09:52 March 14, 2011 by moistvelvet
On the contrary, although some of the comments made might be a bit harsh it does look strange that whilst 38 rescue workers are being flown in from Germany, 10 German nuclear technicians are fleeing in the opposite direction. You can assume that they are mere janitors responsible for sweeping the floor and fixing a light, but do you really think Japan's nuclear industry needs foreign labour to fulfill these positions? No I suspect they are more than just janitors and would be more useful staying in the country to help like their 38 fellow Germans already enroute.

BTW who is this Shima woman and why are they annoyed with her?
10:01 March 14, 2011 by mzfrog
NO they are not janitors. They were there to do service, as per contract. Just because Japan has knowledge, doesn't mean anything. It was probably cheaper for this company to come in and do the service.

They did the right thing by leaving. This accident is not what they are qualified to do. Cut them so slack.
10:21 March 14, 2011 by idiot
jealous german bashers, cute.
10:30 March 14, 2011 by moistvelvet
@mzfrog, you have no idea whay their job was but it is reasonable to say that it was more than service the vending machines, also you have no idea what they are qualified to do so perhaps open your mind to the fact that they might have some skills useful to a country of which they were pleased to profit from but flee when the going got tough. Millions don't have the luxury to be flow away, it seems that some are questioning thier moral compass fleeing a country when so many others are flying in from the opposite direction... but perhaps you are right, perhaps they are just useless.
10:57 March 14, 2011 by anzezad
11:08 March 14, 2011 by mzfrog
@moistvelvet......oh but I DO
11:19 March 14, 2011 by wood artist

I'm not sure I understand your reasoning, but I'll gladly explain mine.

Based upon this story, and a couple others, the 10 people were performing maintenance on a reactor that was shut down at the time. That could be anything from replacing parts to testing control systems to...you name it. They work for a company that has a contract to do that sort of thing, but the specifics of their particular job are unclear.

It seems clear is that they weren't there to operate the reactor, so they would be unlikely to be involved in operational decisions. When the disaster struck, they could no longer continue to do their work, and were just extra bodies in the way, with the potential to become additional casualties should things go wrong. So, they left. The term "fled" might be an overstatement, but given what I've seen, I think it's a proper term.

Now, while they're headed home, you note that others are going in. That's true. Those who are arriving, from all over the world, are trained rescue specialists, often with trained dogs and specialized equipment. The 10 likely have no such training, so, again, it's completely reasonable to get them out of the way. If they are unable to work, because the facility isn't doing any "maintenance" right now, they might as well leave, and be out of the danger area.

In short, until you have some reason, based upon facts, to condemn their actions and the actions of the company they work for, I think it's best to remain silent. It's true that millions "don't have the luxury" of leaving, but the bulk of those people live there. There's a rather significant difference you fail to grasp.

11:23 March 14, 2011 by 4lane
I know these people personally and have worked with them at Nuclear Plants all over the world for the past 15 years. They are highly skilled professionals in their field.

You would not want the meteorologist offering to help the pilot land the plane you are on during a thunderstorm... or the pilot offering to help the meteorologist plot the course of the hurricane headed in your direction.
11:27 March 14, 2011 by mzfrog
I think you totally misunderstood my coment.
11:31 March 14, 2011 by 4lane
I agree with you mzfrog.... but not with moistvelvet
11:33 March 14, 2011 by mzfrog
thank you 4lane
11:54 March 14, 2011 by moistvelvet
@woodartist, I'm saying how it appears in response to the first few criticisms on this thread, not claiming any facts if they are or are not skilled to help, but at the end of the day we both agree that they seem to be useless which is why they are "fleeing". However 4lane seems to know these workers personally (wow what are the chances of that) and says that they are highly skilled professionals in their field, although fails to mention which field that is. For what it's worth we have a guy called Louigie d'squeig and he is a skilled proffesional and dab hand with a brush when cleaning the urinals, but his services have never been called for from abroad.

So true that they could just end up in the way, spare parts holding a dust pan and brush, no use to man or beast, therefore probably a good thing for them to remove themselves as an unecessary burden on the Japanese people. But as I said the fact that they worked in the Nuclear facility and have fled the disaster area back to Europe, it is reasonable for people to ask what it is they were doing there and why they've left when help is needed, that is basically what people are asking and apart from 4lane who apparently knows these workers personally the rest of us can only assume because we don't have the facts that she does.
22:37 March 14, 2011 by 4lane
The 10 men work for Areva. I am good friends with 5 that I know where there, and I'm not sure who the other 5 were. We do the same type work all over the world. They were there for Ultrasonic inspection of some pipes and welds. It is common practice that all Nuclear Plants contract this type work to large companies that are truly experts in that field. They were instructed to leave site after the quake and spent the next few days in a disaster shelter set up in a gym 40 km away. When an opportunity came to leave and return to Germany they did so. I am happy they are back and there are 10 more spaces in the shelter for Japanese citizens.
22:47 March 14, 2011 by mickrussom
Well, the eco-terrorists have made maintaining and rebuilding and making new nuclear infrastructure impossible but the eco-terrorists burn gas and energy like mad. So we have 40 year old reactors that cant survive a 9 magnitude (they did admirably so far containing a total failure) - but we have the technology with pebble bed and generation iV+ reactors to get rid of more of the risks.

Take your pick. Coal, Natural Gas, Nuclear, Oil. Nuclear is the least damaging due to the fact waste stays in one place (rather than being put into the atmosphere) and with new designs even more risk is averted. But the eco-terrorists want to use this to make "green" seem more appealing. Its a sad time where disasters are used by these sick people to push their eco-terrorist agenda.

Its ridiculous since no one was worried about radiation on the west coast after Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic blasts and they shot radiation well over 30,000 feet and there was no evidence of that radiation coming here. And if you read about Bikini and Enewetak Atoll (or Eniwetok Atoll) blasts - we even did a 15 megaton blast in open air called the castle bravo shot. The mushroom cloud reached a height of 47,000 feet (14 km) and a diameter of 7 miles (11 km) in about a minute; it then reached a height of 130,000 feet (40 km) and 62 miles (100 km) in diameter in less than 10 minutes and was expanding at more than 100 m/s.

Some local radiation resulted. The point is, nuclear weapons aren't as bad as the media is making nuclear power to be yet the media and the rat eco-terrorists have no real solutions other than grab a pitchfork and live like the Amish.

Its unreal Germany is whimping out on nuclear power. Unreal. Its green-communism and not logic dictating this. New reactors don't suffer the same problems as 40 year old designs.
03:07 March 15, 2011 by Beachrider
Eco-terrorists? Artificially hoping to drag nuclear opponents down to this level? it is not worthy to your cause.

I don't understand the comparisons to the awful WWII-era. The problems at those atolls were really quite significant. It doesn't mean that nuclear power shouldn't be pursued. It DOES mean that people want to pause, given the problems at these Japanese power plants.

Give them THAT.
10:20 March 15, 2011 by moistvelvet
@4lane, if you say so, but I do now accept that they are better off out of the place if they were of no use.
18:44 March 15, 2011 by polecat
I am impressed by readers who know exactly what happened without having been there.
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