cover image Fukushima: 
The Story of a Nuclear Disaster

Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster

David Lochbaum, Edwin Lyman, Susan Q. Stranahan, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. New Press (Perseus, dist.), $22.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-59558-908-8

In the first comprehensive report of the Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe, Lochbaum, Lyman, and other members of the Union of the Concerned Scientists, along with journalist Stranahan, give a blow-by-blow account of the events on March 11, 2011, when extreme nature collided with aging, outmoded nuclear reactors on Japan’s northern coast. Stranahan, the former lead reporter of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Pulitzer Prize–winning team coverage of the Three Mile Island accident, adds spark to a narrative framed by the scientists’ disturbing facts about the magnitude 9.0 earthquake, one of the five strongest ever recorded, that rattled Japan with a three-minute tremor, followed by a massive tsunami whose waves flooded the power plant. Although the Japanese government and plant officials first assured the public that it was safe, in the subsequent days the disaster terrified citizens as the plant’s fail-safes were overwhelmed—a loss of all external power, cooling systems compromised, overheated fuel rods exposed to fire and explosions. While some serious issues and recommendations of tighter regulations and updating oversight enhance this eye-opening expose, all research points to the scary fact that America can suffer a Fukushima-type event if critical steps are not taken. 39 images. (Feb.)