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Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster

3.8 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1595589088
ISBN-10: 1595589082
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*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

Review

"No one with an interest in the present and future of nuclear power in the United States should miss it."
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."
Kirkus Reviews

"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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Product Details

  • 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 (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #964,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
For what this book is I would have to say it's not the best. The making of the Fukushima One disaster had many facets some technical and many political or cultural. This book Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster skims over too many of the rough edges that do not fit into the books agenda. Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster tippie toes around issues like why did TEPCO remove earth to lower the Fukushima Plant making it more suspectible to being overrun by water.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
As a long-time UCS supporter, I'd hoped for better from the authors. In speaking with Lochbaum in SF last week, I asked why they failed to mention TEPCO's removal of many meters of natural seawall elevation at Fukushima, simply to lower construction costs. His answer, "It was in the draft", but the publisher had a word limit -- really?

I asked further why no mention of the Onagawa plant, ~30 miles closer to the quake center and receiving of a higher tsunami, yet surviving and even housing refugees from the tsunami. No answer.

The "inconvenient truth" for UCS and these authors is that Fukushima demonstrates the safety of well-regulated and implemented nuclear power. TEPCO officers had a long history of malfeasance and collusion with government and regulatory officials. Onagawa, in fact, was designed using Lochbaum's own criterion of: "X plus One" -- design for at least known worst case X and add one more level of safety.

In court, we must swear a 3-part oath. This book fails on two of the parts, at least. If one wants the whole truth and nothing but, read: "Atomic Accidents" by Mahaffey, or...
http colon slash slash tinyurl dot comslash o852xg5 or...
www dot nirs dot org slash fukushima slash naiic_report dot pdf
www dot unis dot unvienna dot org slash unis/en/pressrels/2013/unisinf475 dot html
AAAS Science, Vol 340, p678, 10 May 2013
www dot hiroshimasyndrome dot com slash fukushima-accide
www dot world-nuclear-news dot org slash RS-UN-reports-on-Fukushima-radiation-0204141 dot htmlnt-updates dot html?goback=.gde_117546_member_246407018

This book chose the worst photo of Fukushima's tragedy to put on its cover. Perhaps the corrected edition will at least have Onagawa on its rear cover.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book starts with an excellent description of the events as they unfolded and gets into great details about the American's thoughts on the disaster. It is also typical of the anti-nuclear scare lobby that sees no future for nuclear power. What is missing is a grand overview of nuclear power concepts: The book glosses over the massive evidence against the linear-no-threshold hypothesis for radiation damage, the failures of mob-led policy making in "democracies", the absolute need to locate nuclear facilities underground and the requirement to make reactors simpler, not more complicated. Much like in many other areas like "chemicals", "genetic modification", etc. we are retreating into caves instead of learning and advancing.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster

Except for a few instances, Fuku is an even-handed book. however, careful reading reveals an anti-nuclear bias.

"Fukushima" gave me pause in its brief introduction, where I read that “many in the US, Japan and elsewhere are pushing hard to defend the status quo and hold fast to the assertion that severe accidents are so unlikely that they require scant advance planning.”

Really? How “many” is “many?” And who are these people who oppose advance planning re. accidents?

Chapter 1 describes the events of March 11, the day of the tsunami – and it does it well – but on page 27, a two page insert begins that discusses radiation and its effects on the body. While that’s timely, no mention is made of LNT theory or its flaws, though the subject appears briefly (and inadequately) later in the book.

Chapter 2 is notable for its apparently accurate description of the relationship of Tepco and the Japanese government agencies, which it termed “incestuous.” Moving on, it reviewed events at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, but for some reason neglected to note that Chernobyl lacked a robust containment structure that is required elsewhere in the world - structure that could have greatly reduced the disaster if it had been in place.

Then, on page 48, I learned something new – that “Tepco had been falsifying safety records for years.”

The writers are competent, and their research impressive, but I’d complain that the subject of LNT, which finally showed up on page 216, received little comprehensive attention, and nothing like the information in Robert Hargrave’s Radiation: the Facts, was included. That information is available free from tundracub@mchsi.com.
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