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Fukushima Meltdown: The World's First Earthquake-Tsunami-Nuclear Disaster [Paperback]

Takashi Hirose
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Jan. 1 2012
Takashi Hirose wrote this book in a heat of passion mixed with terrible sadness in the weeks following the Fukushima nuclear disaster. But he is far from a newcomer to this field; he has been writing books and articles warning of the terrible dangers of nuclear power since the early 1980s. In this book, which was a best seller in Japan, he not only describes the comic-if-not-so-tragic series of fumbling errors that lead to the meltdown at Fukushima, but also makes clear the absurdity of putting nuclear power plants anywhere on the earthquake and volcano prone Japanese archipelago - and by extension, anywhere in the world. This is the first translation into English of any book by this authoritative critic of nuclear power.

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3.0 out of 5 stars SHORT AND TO THE POINT Nov. 7 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Short and to the point. This book is full of information. Written by someone who has followed the subject for a long time. Makes you wonder why humans started to fool around with nuclear power. Also makes you wonder if Chrenobyl and Fukushima are only the beginning of a series of nuclear accidents that may gradually make this planet a nasty place to live for future generations. Once in a while the translation is a bit strange but that's no problem. For the price its a good buy.

DANIEL YELLE
Brossard CANADA
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Amazon.com: 2.8 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Skip it - there are better discussions of the disaster on the market May 29 2012
By D. Gleason - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
He's not wrong. TEPCO (the builder/operator of the Fukushima plant) and NISA (the Nuclear Regulatory Commission equivalent in Japan) made mistakes for decades. And they didn't stop when the disaster happened. But there are more impartial, more accurate places to get this information. Mr. Takashi, whom I understand is a musician and chef by training, is so wrapped up in his anti-nuclear rhetoric that the entirety of the book read like an angry rant written by an anonymous internet user typing in all caps. He makes a big to do about the fact that all these reactors are designed to do is boil water, how silly of us, we could boil water another way! As if there aren't environmental and economic consequences to other types of energy production. Japan is a small group of islands, they don't exactly have the resources the US does. And he loses IQ points by the minute when he declares that if reactors were safe, why don't they put them in populated areas, specifically the center of the city of Tokyo! Well, I have been to several of the larger cities in Japan, Tokyo included, and they don't have room for all of their own city residents, much less a large complex of nuclear reactors (I defy Mr. Takashi to find the money to pay for all of that eye gougingly expensive Tokyo real estate). With most writers, you'd just call all of that nonsense hyperbole, but with Mr. Takashi, it seems like he is actually using that as a logical argument. He also can't see the forest for the trees, focusing intently on whether the earthquake was 8.4 or 8.8 or accurately upgraded to 9, when the list of TEPCO's hamhanded management and outright safety violations are mere footnotes, if discussed at all. NISA's lack of accountability and willful ignorance should have been covered more in depth too.

And Mr. Takashi's understanding of radiation science - dosimetry, dispersal, and decay - is poor. He starts his chapter on the effects of nuclear radiation on living organisms by saying that he's not going to use standard metrics or even numbers as a measurement tool, or any unit of measure at all, simply because radioactive decay does not leave the area completely free of radiation, it will only breakdown into an amount infinitesimally close to zero. He makes it clear that even one atom that is radioactive is so dangerous that any use of radiation metrics as a means to understand the impact of radiation on people should simply be thrown out the window. His understanding of the actual effect of radiation on humans just deteriorates from there. And of course, you won't be able miss the giant I TOLD YOU SO draped all over the text.

In the end, it doesn't matter. The book was written 6 weeks after the disaster, and much has happened since then. There are better, more thorough discussions of the tragedy. The best I have found is actually Wikipedia. Now we all know that Wikipedia has impartiality and inaccuracy flaws inherent to their system, but it's quite a step up from Mr. Takashi's work. It is up to date and extremely thorough - you'll gain a lay understanding of the nuclear physics of boiling water reactors, if you haven't already got one. It discusses the impact of radiation on people - and ecosystems - based on actual radiation biology - no "to hell with the numbers" here. And I'm sure to Mr. Takashi's relief, it does NOT leave TEPCO and NISA off the hook. Much like as was the case with the Chernobyl and Mayak disasters, sometimes the western press, with its 100% free press and aggressive investigative journalism, gets the clearer picture of the disaster at hand.

So in summary: Fukushima was a monumental disaster and a tragedy beyond measure, but Mr. Takashi is not the person you want explaining it to you.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars more of a case against nuclear power in japan than fukushima Jan. 20 2012
By pjf - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Like the author, I was dismayed, though not surprised, about the deliberate downplaying (if not outright lying) in the media coverage of the Fukushima meltdown. American media viewers received a lot of experts telling us how thus and such could not happen, until it did happen (over and over as events worsened), until shortly after the accident was declared equal to Chernobyl the American media pretty much stopped covering it altogether in favor of the events in Libya. I was hoping this book would present a more detailed view of the Fukushima events, with consolidated reports from independent investigators (much of which the press ignored) and international bodies. This book does not do that.

That doesn't mean the book isn't valuable in its way, which is to essentially present a series of reasons why the precautions taken to secure other Japanese nuclear plants against damage from earthquakes and tsunamis are inadequate. So far is it goes that information is fine, but given the title of the book, I was expecting something rather different and none of this information was new to me.

As for Tokyo Electric Power, their statement that the tsunami was an unimaginable event was laughable to me when I first heard it back in March. As a small schoolchild, I learned about tsunamis in Japan, and read stories about their great heights and the damage they caused. Everyone is familiar with "The Great Wave" artwork. The pitiful precautions against tsunamis at Fukushima were ridiculous given historical precedent, even for anyone even distantly familiar with that history. So that information is not new to me, (though apparently it was new to TEPCO before the tsunami). The information about the problems regarding nuclear power in tsunami or earthquake prone areas is good for the average reader.

The three stars I am giving the book is more because the title of the book is not really descriptive of the text. I was hoping for an anatomy of the disaster, a chronology of events before and during, and a long term summary of the events after, with radiation levels and information about the local populace and what is happening in the areas - particularly since the American news media have essentially dropped the story. This book is more of a treatise against nuclear power in Japan, with Fukushima as an example. Perhaps someone will write the book I am looking to read.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I told you so Nov. 12 2013
By Michael K. Stenstrom - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The author seems to be a long term anti-nuclear protester. He faults the disaster on the earthquake/tsunami and the book has an attitude of "I told you so" or "I predicted." Very little technical information about the power plant. He describes most of the nuclear power plants in Japan, and their proximity to earth quake faults. Not much new to learn from this book about the meltdowns. It might be useful as a reference to learn about the proximity of other Japanese power plants to nearby faults.
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but lacking May 17 2014
By Ed Ray - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Takashi Hirose wrote a very technical book regarding earthquakes,
I wanted to read more about the humane side of having to go through a horrendous earth quake,
A huge tsumai and then a Nuclear reactor melt down.
I can't imagine how horrified the people must have felt. The book is still worth reading,Perhaps we
will learn some day that there are things we can't always control.
0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique Insight Oct. 30 2013
By W. R. Wittmayer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
An important book because it gives information you will never see in the press. This is a disaster that keeps on giving trouble and eventually total disaster for Japan. WRW
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