Sunday, March 13, 2016

"he goeth up into a mountain" - The Plant Manager of the Fukushima Daiichi Plant


The Plant Manager of the Fukushima Daiichi Plant

The plant manager of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant when the nuclear accident was set off was Masao Yoshida (1955-2013).

He did not leave the plant for six days and nights after March 11, 2011 when the great earthquake/tsunami hit the Plant.  Since then, he continued to work in Fukushima Daiichi while spending weekends in his home in Tokyo, though he often joined meetings held in headquarters office of Tokyo Electric Power Co. in Tokyo.

Put simply, he did not run away from the Plant in the wake of the nuclear accident that started on March 12, 2011.  However, due to extreme stress, pressure and exposure to radiation, he was hospitalized in November 2011, since cancer was found in his body.  And, on July 9, 2013, he died.

There are some controversies about his responsibility and mistakes he made in efforts to prevent aggravation and expansion of the nuclear disaster at the time.  But, there is no denying that he did his best to restore the Plant after the hydrogen explosions of reactor units of the Plant.

However, how much he received radiation and what triggered the cancer are not clearly explained by the utility and the Japanese Government.  Indeed, the dead can't speak, and we can hear no more testimony of him about the situation of the Plant in early days of the nuclear disaster.  Maybe something important was yet to be reported by him.

Recently, the Committees for the Inquest of Prosecution in Tokyo decided to charge ex-chairman of the utility Tsunehisa Katsumata (1940-) and others for professional negligence resulting in death and injury related to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, though the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office had decided earlier that they would not bring charges against Katsumata and other ex-top corporate executives.  

Plant manager Yoshida should have requested the then top executives to raise breakwaters of the Plant in case that a 10-meter high tsunami should attack the Plant.  However, from attitudes of ex-chairman Katsumata, it is most likely that such a request was simply rejected on the grounds that it required huge costs and it was unlikely that a 10-meter high tsunami would attack the Plant in any time soon.

It is not clear whether Yoshida's death is counted in deaths related to the nuclear accident.

However Yoshida was interviewed by a writer before his death.  The book tells how he acted, thought, and felt during the nuclear accident in months after March 11, 2011.  Probably, this book should be translated into English to share lessons of Fukushima Daiichin with people in the world.

**** **** ****

Mar 3:13 And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him.
Mar 3:14 And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,
Mar 3:15 And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils: