Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Terror and Courage at Fukushima

By terror, I mean the increasing fears of a nuclear catastrophe in Japan.  But by courage I mean the forgotten heroes of the Fukushima situation: the 50 technicians working desperately on site.  With respect to Mike Rowe, this is the world's ultimate dirty job, and the stakes have never been higher:
They crawl through labyrinths of equipment in utter darkness pierced only by their flashlights, listening for periodic explosions as hydrogen gas escaping from crippled reactors ignites on contact with air. 
They breathe through uncomfortable respirators or carry heavy oxygen tanks on their backs. They wear white, full-body jumpsuits with snug-fitting hoods that provide scant protection from the invisible radiation sleeting through their bodies. 
They are the faceless 50, the unnamed operators who stayed behind. They have volunteered, or been assigned, to pump seawater on dangerously exposed nuclear fuel, already thought to be partly melting and spewing radioactive material, to prevent full meltdowns that could throw thousands of tons of radioactive dust high into the air and imperil millions of their compatriots.
UPDATE: The workers have apparently been pulled back after a spike in radiation levels.  *gulp*

No comments: