The earthquake, subsequent tsunami, and nuclear power plant disaster in Fukushima, Japan is seared into our memories ever since March 11, 2011. The tsunami that caused the nuclear power plant disaster killed 19,000 people in one fell swoop. At the same time, the tsunami swept away the emergency diesel generators that are used to cool the nuclear power plant reactors in case of power failure. This allowed for a complete nuclear meltdown. It was the perfect recipe for disaster.
Firsthand account from Carl Pilitteri, Excerpt from Environmental Action:
"In one nanosecond, the entire floor went black. Every light went out. You would expect some emergency lighting would come on, but there wasn't a one. And there was this most welcome beam of light coming from the gap under the door. I made my way over to the door, and the one and only light in the room, it was swinging violently and then at the same time I opened the door it busted free and shattered on the floor. It was pitch black again. I remember thinking, ‘None of you are getting out of here.'
One of the Japanese guys had grabbed me around the waist. I put my arm up on his shoulder. With every jolt I squeezed his shoulder. I remember praying aloud for him, for all of us. I thought, we're going to perish in this turbine building. I can still hear the turbine making its unwelcome sound. I had many thoughts. But one of them was: Good God. I got up this morning just to go to work. And this is how it's written for me? Dying is a fact of life. We all have to do it sooner or later. But this is how it's written for me? March 11? On a Friday? On a turbine deck? In Fukushima? At work? Of course my thoughts went immediately to my family. My two young children."
Before the Tsunami
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