We end today’s show with news that Japan has announced a major push to revive its nuclear energy program, just weeks before the third anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. This comes just a week after it was revealed about 100 tons of highly radioactive water have leaked from one of the hundreds of storage tanks at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Here in the United States, the Obama administration announced last week it approved $6.5 billion in loan guarantees to back construction of the country’s first new nuclear power plant in more than 30 years. This comes as a nuclear waste disposal site is set to reopen in New Mexico following an unexplained leak of radioactive material. We speak to Edwin Lyman and Susan Stranahan, co-authors of the new book, “Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster.”
EDWIN LYMAN: EDWIN LYMAN: Well, being in Washington for a long time, very little shocks me. But I could say that while the government—while the U.S. government was telling the American people there was nothing to fear from Fukushima and that U.S. plants aren’t vulnerable to the same problems, internally, they were—there was a much different story. So we’ve learned from a lot of Freedom of Information Act documents that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the White House were actually very concerned about the potential impact of radiation from Fukushima affecting not only Americans in Tokyo, which was more than a hundred miles away from the plant, but also Americans on the West Coast. And they were furiously running calculations to try to figure out how bad it could get. But there was no sense of this in what they were telling the public.
SUSAN STRANAHAN: I think that what we have always missed in the nuclear debate is the human side, the face of a disaster. And that’s what I hope to portray by my contribution. Ed and our co-author, Dave Lochbaum, are nuclear safety experts. I’m a journalist. And I tended to see the opportunity to put a human face on a nuclear disaster. So we portray what happened to the people in Japan, the disruptions in their lives, the economic consequences, and a lot of the political backstory into how we got where we are today.