- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: The New Press (February 11, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1595589082
- ISBN-13: 978-1595589088
- Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #702,028 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster
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*Starred Review* Japan assured the public that its 54 nuclear power stations, even those built in seismically active regions, were perfectly safe. Then on March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9 earthquake hit, shifted the earth’s axis, caused a tsunami that killed nearly 19,000 people, and brought the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to the brink of utter disaster. Lochbaum, head of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Nuclear Safety Project; Lyman, a senior scientist for the same organization; and Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Stranahan, who covered the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, pilot the first in-depth account of all that went nightmarishly wrong. Their thriller-like, minute-by-minute chronicle covers every harrowing technical breakdown, backed by briskly informative illuminations of the science underlying the boiling-water reactors and the systems designed to prevent their meltdown. They are equally precise in their coverage of the human side of the story, from the grave dangers confronting the plant’s valiant staff to the scrambling of public officials to the trauma of evacuees as explosions wracked Fukushima and radiation leaks increased. As the crisis at Fukushima continues, this exacting and chilling record of epic failures in risk assessment, regulation, preparedness, and transparency will stand as a cautionary analysis of the perils of nuclear power the world over. --Donna Seaman
—Los Angeles Times
"There are other books on Fukushima, but the only one covering this ground is Fukushima, which takes a more global and policy-related approach. Told with economy, drama, and scientific accuracy, this book is a must for anyone involved in energy assessment or concerned about nuclear energy issues."
Library Journal (starred review)
"The book is a gripping, suspenseful page-turner finely crafted to appeal both to people familiar with the science and those with only the barest inkling of how nuclear power works. Even with the broad outlines of the story in the public record, the authors have uncovered many important details that never came to light during the saturation-level media coverage."
"Their thriller-like, minute-by-minute chronicle covers every harrowing technical breakdown, backed by briskly informative illuminations of the science underlying the boiling-water reactors and the systems designed to prevent their meltdown. They are equally precise in their coverage of the human side of the story, from the grave dangers confronting the plant’s valiant staff to the scrambling of public officials to the trauma of evacuees as explosions wracked Fukushima and radiation leaks increased. As the crisis at Fukushima continues, this exacting and chilling record of epic failures in risk assessment, regulation, preparedness, and transparency will stand as a cautionary analysis of the perils of nuclear power the world over."
Booklist (starred review)
"Anyone seriously interested in understanding the issues involved in delivering safe’ nuclear energy will be rewarded by reading this book; anybody involved in delivering nuclear power should be required to read it."
Robert Gallucci, president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
"It’s hard to imagine a more comprehensive and compelling account of what happened after an earthquake and tsunami struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March 2011. There are lessons in this book for all of us. This book is a must-read for anyone who cares about nuclear power."
Robert J. Rosenthal, executive director of the Center for Investigative Reporting
"A compelling analysis of the nuclear disaster at Fukushima and a pointed challenge to the nuclear industry and its regulators."
Rush Holt, U.S. House of Representatives
"A riveting account of the unfolding of the Fukushima accident that gives the reader a feel for how hard it is to respond to an unprecedented catastrophe in the face of uncertainty."
Victor Gilinsky, former commissioner at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
"Everyone who cares about the Faustian bargain we make for nuclear energy must read this terrifying story."
David Suzuki, co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation and host of The Nature of Things
"This amazing book provides both a blow-by-blow account of the Fukushima accident and an exploration of what needs to be done worldwide to improve nuclear safety. Essential reading, whether you agree with all of its conclusions or not."
Matthew Bunn, professor at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government
"Gripping and authoritative, Fukushima opens a new chapter in the debate on the difficult and perhaps impossible goal of safe nuclear power."
Alexander Glaser, assistant professor at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
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Top Customer Reviews
It was also well known that the Mark 1 containment for GE boiling water reactors were just plain junk. Why weren't upgrades made to better reinforce the Mark 1 containment as was done here in the USA. It appears certain Mark 1 Containment upgrades were not applied because, it appeared the Japanese were so certain such an accident could not happen here. This book avoids too many hard questions technically and politically and full exploration of these areas is vital to understanding the Fukushima One Disaster. Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster ommits the main story which is the arrogance of TEPCO and the fact that political people were making decisions that tied the hands of those trying to manage 4 dying reactors. The reactors were dying a slow death that had the experts been given a free hand to do what was right in a timely manner the Fukushima disaster may have just been a minor footnote in histrory.
Thanks to inept politicians delaying critical reactor safety venting and other steps that would have likely lessened or prevented meltdown they gave our world an utter disaster. In Chernobyl and Fukushima 1 the politics of fear and mindless servitude in each of the respective cultures invaded the nuclear reactors control room. In both Japan and the former Soviet Union when the culture of fear enters a nuclear reactors control room result was disaster magnified on a scale unthinkable that did not have to be. Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster tells part of the story but not the whole story of the nightmare called Fukushima One which is why it earns only my three star rating. Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster is a good attempt but it misses half the story.
The weakness of the book is the extrapolation from Fukushima to US nuclear reactors. The book has extensive coverage of the discussions and policies of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission related to both Fukushima and US reactor safety in general. They rehash Three Mile Island as if it were nearly the same as Fukushima, which it is not. At every turn, they take the most pessimistic view possible of nuclear power and assume the most unlikely events will happen. The Union of Concerned Scientists, and these authors, have been making these same statements for decades and they have consistently failed to come true. The singular failing is to fairly assess how safe nuclear power actually has been in the US and to compare its risks (which are real but small) with the known risks of depending on burning coal to generate electricity, which is what nuclear power supplants. The other major issue is production of CO2 and global warming. US coal to generate electricity generates nearly 2 billion tons of CO2 yearly but nuclear power generates virtually none. I have calculated that since 1970 nuclear power in the US has avoided 24 billion tons of CO2 that would have been produced if coal had been burned instead. If nuclear power is too risky, as the authors imply, then what is to replace it without generating CO2? This book would be much better if the authors dealt with these two issues. Still, it is a worthwhile read.
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