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Publisher's Summary

On March 11, 2011, an earthquake large enough to knock the earth from its axis sent a massive tsunami speeding toward the Japanese coast and the aging and vulnerable Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power reactors. Over the following weeks, the world watched in horror as a natural disaster became a man-made catastrophe: fail-safes failed, cooling systems shut down, nuclear rods melted.

In the first definitive account of the Fukushima disaster, two leading experts from the Union of Concerned Scientists, David Lochbaum and Edwin Lyman, team up with journalist Susan Q. Stranahan, the lead reporter of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Pulitzer Prizewinning coverage of the Three Mile Island accident, to tell this harrowing story. Fukushima combines a fast-paced, riveting account of the tsunami and the nuclear emergency it created with an explanation of the science and technology behind the meltdown as it unfolded in real time.

The narrative also extends to other severe nuclear accidents to address both the terrifying question of whether it could happen elsewhere and how such a crisis can be averted in the future.

©2014 Union of Concerned Scientists (P)2014 Audible Inc.

What listeners say about Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Nuclear or Climate Armageddon

Any serious attempt to enlighten us with regard to Nuclear safety requirements is a good thing, and the ‘concerned scientists’ contributing this book do it well. But IMHO the issue is ‘priority’ in a world hurtling towards murderous Climate Change. I’ve done my part to accelerate today’s Climate change dramas by pushing back on Nuclear power for at least twenty of my sixty-eight years. I was deaf to greenhouse gasses and the thousands of fossil fuel deaths annually. Plutonium production for bombs and waste that lasts millennia, not to mention meltdown potential made my know-all arrogant behaviour unyielding. But today the elephant-in-the-room is that minus fossil fuels, only nuclear can deliver the roughly 50% of electricity and industrial heat that no amount of solar, wind, batteries, hydro and geo can do anytime soon. This book describes how today’s 400-odd reactors have serious potential problems due to unforeseen ‘worst case scenarios’, focusing on Fukushima because unlike Chernobyl, it is similar in many ways to most of the world’s present reactors. Not mentioned in the book is that Nuclear power/kwHr generated remains the safest of every kind of power generation including solar, wind etc despite every nuclear calamity mentioned. Today’s new 3rd generation reactors such as Westinghouse’s AP1,000 (Advanced Passive 1GW) introduce a form of ‘walk away safety’ (at least for several days) as do ‘small modular reactors’ while remaining high pressure water reactor with the considerable safety related costs that come with that. The small modular reactors (<300Mw) are ‘factory-made’ and transportable, saving costs considerably. For better or worse people need to hear that something has radically changed to make Nuclear safe and IMHO that will be difficult without embracing 4th generation ‘Molten Salt Reactors’ (MSRs) such as, but not limited to, Thorium. About six MSR designs are well under way and all are inherently passive ‘walk away safe’, running near atmospheric pressure where no massive safety container building is required. Thorium is virtually free and utilised to about 98% compared to 0.7% in today’s Uranium235 solid fuel reactors. That means that MSRs generate about 99% less waste with a 300-year half-life, which is nearly an order of magnitude earlier than today’s waste. MSRs run at atmospheric pressure and 600-700 degrees C making electrical generation more efficient (up to 45% vs about 33% with today’s 300 degree C steam turbines). MSRs can directly providing industrial heat where today fossil fuels generate about 20% of all green house gasses. This heat can also be used for water desalination and creating replacement chemicals that presently require fossil fuel products. MSRs are hopeless at creating bomb materials such as Plutonium but excellent for making a wide range of medical isotopes. The MSRE Molten Salt Reactor Experiment) was built in the sixties at Oak Ridge and run flawlessly for four years. When they were about to build and demonstrate the world’s safest nuclear electric generator Nixon pulled development funding because high-pressure water reactors had the momentum (nuclear engineers had been taught nothing about MSR technology), they were great for making bomb ingredients and would employ lots of people where Nixon needed votes. Fortunately the vast collection of research documents produced at Oak Ridge have been rescued and published on the internet by Kirk Sorensen. MSRs are coming slowly but surely to solve the vast majority of concerning issues in this exhausting but exhaustive book. Only three stars for not mentioning MSRs nor even mentioning the existential catastrophe Climate Change guarantees that only Nuclear can mitigate in the necessary time frame.

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Excellent review of the background of the disaster

This books goes into the decisions made by the government and nuclear regulators in Japan, the decisions on where to locate the reactors, as well as insights into the disaster. If you're after a book specifically on the events of the day and post disaster efforts then this isn't the book for you. Excellent narration, lots of background information, a must read if you are interested in this disaster.

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  • amanda
  • 26-05-2019

Not About Fukushima

This is a book by The Union of Concerned Scientists arguing for better nuclear plant regulation in the United States. They prove their points, making strong arguments. But I was trying to read a book ABOUT Fukushima. They mention Fukushima, spending a few chapters on it as a cautionary tale. I was trying to read a WHOLE book about Fukushima. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be one. This book is boring. So so unbelievably boring. It's difficult to make a nuclear disaster boring, but they've managed it. They've so, so managed it. They should have hired Adam Higganbotham or Sergio Plokhy, both of whom wrote EXCELLENT, wonderfully readable books on Chernobyl to write this. I was hoping for a book like those books, I was sorely disappointed. What's missing are the first person accounts; description of culture, historic period, and place; journalism, social analysis, and storytelling of those books. I am BEGGING those authors to take on this topic. That's the book I want to read. The Fukushima coverage in this also just kind of trails off. I kept thinking they'd pick up the thread again but they didn't. I finished this, but it was a long unpleasant slog. The Union of Concerned Scientists should be ashamed of their bait and switch and should rename and describe this in a way that's transparent. They should be embarrassed by this, it undercuts their credibility and makes them look manipulative. If you want to read a book about problems with the nuclear industry in the United States and a comprehensive argument is more important to you than readability, this is your book though. Also it's terrifying, because we're not protected at all.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Eduards J. Vucins
  • 11-05-2014

Internal workings of the NRC

What disappointed you about Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster?

Half the book was on the NRC.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

Narration was good but the authors were clearly writers only with a poor understanding of the technical details. A much better understanding of the event can be obtained from the Chapter in James Mahafey's book Atomic Accidents: A History and the Robert P.Gale MD book Radiation-What it is & What You Need to Know .

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Unless you are a policy wonk, you will be bored by half of the book.

25 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-06-2018

Heavily biased anti nuclear energy propaganda.

While the recounting of the disaster at Fukushima is well researched and compellingly told, it is tarnished by the authors unabashed bias against anything to do with nuclear power.

23 people found this helpful

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  • Eric
  • 08-07-2016

Political Essay

The authors' biases made it hard for me to enjoy the story. This was more a political essay than a historical account.

25 people found this helpful

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  • Andrew Elmore
  • 26-04-2019

Do you like regulation?

This book was more about the regulator agencies, primarily in the US, then anything else. It had a fine technical description of the disaster but it hardly mention any of the works trying to save the plant. If you are looking for reasons to hate the nuclear industry you'll get some good talking points from this book.

7 people found this helpful

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  • andrew velasquez
  • 09-02-2017

anti-renewable energy propoganda.

bought the book to learn about nuclear incidents. all I got was fear mongering and half facts.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 20-12-2018

Extremely non-objective and biased

“Even one part in a billion of radiation can be harmful”. What else can you say?

This author has a definite agenda “nuclear in any form is bad”. I’m sure he drives a car, cleans his teeth with an electric toothbrush,... and believes in made global warming, but nuclear is unacceptable to him? This is propaganda and very damaging propaganda at that.

Unless you are the type that gets into their BMW to take a drive down the coast to protest the latest off-shore oil development, save your money on this one.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Jeff Rigby
  • 14-08-2019

need to stick to the facts

the story about what happen at Fukushima is really good. As the book ran on it became very clear the writers of this book were trying to force the facts into fitting within their specific and narrow minded opinion. what they really wanted to blame the United States for problems in Japan. further they want to force the nuclear industry into taking policy positions that would made it impossible to actually operate nuclear power plants. plus they refused to give any credit to efforts being done to improve nuckear safety if the possitions did not fit into their narrow view. This started out as a really good book but then drives way to deep into unsupportable political opinion and so I will probably never listen to this book again.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Sean Pheonix
  • 21-10-2019

Dreary Political Whining

Do not buy this for scientific or technical accuracy. It is a anti-nuclear power manifesto from the first page.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Xiaomi Redmi 9A
  • 04-04-2021

Boring:

Not a lot about the actual drama and the people who were involved. Too much boring information on background technicalities and the little actual story.

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  • R Halls
  • 09-03-2018

Biased

The book was interesting however I do find the arguments are quite biased. As it always emphasises the worst effects and idea "That ALL radionuclides are dangerous" It's ment to be written by Scientists so; the types of isotopes, half life , decay energy/rate and types of energy (Alpha, Beta, Gamma) don't mean much then? However it is a good listen if you remember to account for this

4 people found this helpful

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  • Robert
  • 19-02-2017

Fukushima inspired political discussion

I was hoping to learn more technical aspects of the accident in order to have my own opinion. Instead it is mostly extensive political discussion with strong emphasis on American authorities. Lector has beautiful voice but occasionally loses comprehension of long sentences that the book generously uses.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Killian
  • 25-10-2019

Misleading title

This is a book more about US government policy and regulation. Therefore it’s a very misleading title.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Sean
  • 09-04-2020

not really about Fukushima

the book isn't really about Fukushima, this book is more about the state of nuclear safety and regulation in the US, seens more like a Fukushima was just used as an example.

if the book title was Fukushima: the state of nuclear safety in the us after Fukushima I would rate more

1 person found this helpful

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  • Froggins
  • 13-11-2021

Completely inaccurate account, does not belong in science and engineering, science fiction is a better category

God awful book.
This fictional story is not only dull and boring but so inaccurate it’s painful to listen to. If you looked up fake news in the dictionary- this book might appear as an example.

If you like sensationalised American Hyped drivel then go right ahead.

If you want to learn what actually happened then please purchase “on the brink” the inside story of Fukushima daiichi. By Ryusho Kadota. There isn’t a closer account of the true events than his book.

Really, avoid this audio book !

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