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Fukushima Daiichi Worker: “We’re looking at a Chernobyl-type situation, maybe worse” -Book

Published: November 4th, 2012 at 8:06 pm ET
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Title: Chapter 4: Meltdown
Source: The Asia-Pacific Journal
Authors: Lucy Birmingham and David McNeill
Date: November 5, 2012

Strong in the Rain, a new book co-authored by Japan Focus coordinator David McNeill and Lucy Birmingham, Time magazine’s Tokyo correspondent, tells the story of Japan’s 2001 [sic] triple disaster through the eyes of six ordinary Japanese people. [...] In this except from Chapter Four, [a maintenance worker at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant] Watanabe Kai (a pseudonym) and Mayor Sakurai Katsunobu begin to realize the full scale of the triple meltdown at the Daiichi plant and what it will mean for their lives.

[...] It was just after 3:00 pm. Kai and thousands of workers had been allowed to leave to check on their families. [...]

Trying to put together what happened at the refugee center in Iwaki, Kai feared the worst.  The center was crowded with people from his town who sat fearful and transfixed in front of the TV, but few were as qualified as he was to imagine how bad this could get. A professor from the elite University of Tokyo was saying that there was no cause for alarm but it was obvious that there was no water in the reactors and that the fuel was melting.   Why were they saying it isn’t melting down?, he wondered.  We’re looking at a Chernobyl-type situation, maybe worse. Eventually, he thought, the evacuation area could stretch to 100km or perhaps 200 km. [...]

Still, as soon as he saw the explosion on March 12, he began waiting for a call from his company, asking him to save the plant and clean up the mess. [...]

The call came later, about a week after the crisis began.  “We have to go back,” said Kai’s manager.  He used a military term; “final battle orders.” [...]

Published: November 4th, 2012 at 8:06 pm ET
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