Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster

Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster


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On March 11, 2011, an earthquake large enough to knock the earth from its axis sent a massive tsunami speeding toward the Japanese coast and the aging and vulnerable Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power reactors. Over the following weeks, the world watched in horror as a natural disaster became a man-made catastrophe: fail-safes failed, cooling systems shut down, nuclear rods melted.

In the first definitive account of the Fukushima disaster, two leading experts from the Union of Concerned Scientists, David Lochbaum and Edwin Lyman, team up with journalist Susan Q. Stranahan, the lead reporter of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Pulitzer Prize–winning coverage of the Three Mile Island accident, to tell this harrowing story. Fukushima combines a fast-paced, riveting account of the tsunami and the nuclear emergency it created with an explanation of the science and technology behind the meltdown as it unfolded in real time. Bolstered by photographs, explanatory diagrams, and a comprehensive glossary, the narrative also extends to other severe nuclear accidents to address both the terrifying question of whether it could happen elsewhere and how such a crisis can be averted in the future.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781595589088
Publisher: New Press, The
Publication date: 02/11/2014
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

David Lochbaum is the head of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Nuclear Safety Project and author of Nuclear Waste Disposal Crisis. He lives in Chattanooga. Edwin Lyman is a senior scientist in the Global Security Program of the Union of Concerned Scientists. He lives in Washington, D.C. Susan Q. Stranahan is the author of Susquehanna: River of Dreams. She lives in Maine. The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading science-based nonprofit working for a healthy environment and a safer world.

Table of Contents

Introduction vii

1 March 11, 2011: "A Situation That We Had Never Imagined" 1

2 March 12, 2011: "This May Get Really Ugly…" 34

3 March 12 Through 14, 2011: "What the Hell Is Going On?" 55

4 March 15 Through 18, 2011: "It's Going to Get Worse…" 79

5 Interlude-Searching for Answers: "People… Are Reaching the Limit of Anxiety and Anger" 103

6 March 19 Through 20, 2011: "Give Me the Worst Case" 121

7 Another March, Another Nation, Another Meltdown 141

8 March 21 Through December 2011: "The Safety Measures…Are Inadequate" 155

9 Unreasonable Assurances 182

10 "This Is a Closed Meeting. Right?" 204

11 2012: "The Government Owes the Public a Clear and Convincing Answer" 222

12 A Rapidly Closing Window of Opportunity 244

Appendix: The Fukushima Postmortem: What Happened? 263

Glossary 269

Key Individuals 277

U.S. Boiling Water Reactors with "Mark I" and "Mark II" Containments 279

Notes and References 281

Index 293

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