FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Meltdown – The Fateful 88 Hours

by

shutterstock_157821008 (1)

What was happening inside Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant?

It is nearly impossible to think about the disaster of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (福島第一原子力発電所) without wondering what it must have been like inside the control center. The first 88 hours after the reactors went out of control were the most critical. It’s when the workers of Fukushima Daiichi met the devil of cataclysm face-to-face.

Now for the first time ever, the public will be able to go inside the control room of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in a documentary drama, Meltdown – The Fateful 88 Hours (“Meltdown”), a NHK Documentary premiering March 11th broadcast nationally on Link TV and KCET Southern California.

Over 500 people directly involved in the crisis over the past five years were interviewed prior to making the film. These are personal experiences of a heart-stopping endangerment that few people will ever experience. But, the whole world stopped, watched, and wondered.

Filmed in two parts, Meltdown takes the viewer into the heart and soul of nuclear power, how it works, how it breaks down. Over time, as the film progresses, the nuclear reactors take on the character of a mythical creature that overpowers with a mindset of its own. After all, nuclear fission has its own life cycle, relentlessly splitting atoms, even as humans flip an off switch. The atom is not a force to be reckoned with by mere mortals, unless perfectly in-tuned to its intensity. This cautionary message comes thru in the film, as if seated in the control room.

Meltdown brings to center stage the enormity, the mystery, and foreboding imagery of nuclear power. Paradoxically, whilst it quietly serves a positive function for society, it engenders a feeling of darkness that is difficult to understand or accept without trepidation. In part, this is because connotations surrounding the nuclear fission process, with its intense heat, bring forth emotions of deep anxiety and apprehension. All of these traits are boldly realized within the confines of the control room in Meltdown.

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 5.05.31 PM-1

Within the first nine hours, the workers at the plant know a meltdown is underway. The containment vessel pressure in Reactor No. 1 had risen beyond 600kPa. This was more pressure than the vessel could withstand. It was then that the workers experienced visions of Armageddon for all of eastern Japan. In their words: “I was praying to God. I was ready to die. It was like a war zone.”

Similar to director Ron Howard’s film Apollo 13’s aborted mission to the moon because of an unexpected explosion on board the Apollo spacecraft, Meltdown details the excruciating interplay between human and machine as one attempts to tame the other. Still, it’s living life on the edge of death, as minutes stretch into hours, but somehow time is lost, a mindlessness of the corporeal whilst enraptured in a vivid astuteness of the spiritual. Thereby, films about real life disasters bring the viewer in touch with a reality that they know but don’t comprehend. The magic of film brings forth that comprehension.

Similar to the Tom Hanks character in Apollo 13, working with mission control to “craft by hand” a solution to something that had never happened before, the men of Fukushima are confronted with unforeseeable problems never before realized with a nuclear reactor. No other nuclear power plant in history had deteriorated so quickly, as its automatic functionality fails at its most crucial moments.

It’s moments like that when the workers “become one” with the nuclear containment vessel like never before dressed in protective whites wearing oxygen masks and tight-fitting gloves to enter the behemoth, knowing radiation levels are deadly dangerous, knowing their time is short to mechanically accomplish, by hand, what the behemoth failed to do. Like NASA instructing the Tom Hanks character in Apollo 13 how to configure a makeshift device to save his life, the workers of Meltdown enter the nuclear containment vessel searching for a hand-operated vent valve to release radioactive pressure from within the monster towering above. But, time is short as radiation levels within the vessel are sizzling high with the workers exposed to “annual allowable limits of radiation exposure” within minutes rather than years.

Even though TEPCO workers manage to open the valves to “vent” Reactor No. 1, still within 24 hours of the earthquake and tsunami, the roof of Reactor No. 1 blows off in a massive hydrogen explosion. “The ground became a source of radiation after the explosion,” as one incident cascades into another, like falling dominoes, the fail-safe structures that stood tall for 40-years providing over one million people electricity, suddenly crumbles, as if unglued like a tinker-toy broken apart.

The film brings to life not only the overwhelming predominance of the elusive atom over humankind’s frail capabilities when confronted with the unimaginable, but it also brings to the screen beyond belief human imagination that fights back, time and again in the face of complete disaster.

The film’s final voiceover makes two separate and distinct statements that cannot help but leave viewers of Meltdown in a state of contemplation of a human value system, our probity, and a strange way of economic life that engenders so many beautiful wonders as well as heartrending defeats.

The Final Voiceovers:

“But, even after the 88 hour battle, workers could not stop the emission of radioactive substances. The plant continued to release radiation.”

“The event of Fukushima raises a vital question for all humankind. Now that the once unimaginable has occurred, will we ever be able to once again believe that nuclear power is under our control?”

Meltdown – The Fateful 88 Hours premieres Friday, March 11th at 7 pm ET/PT on Link TV (DirecTV 375 and DISH 9410) immediately followed by Meltdown-The Fateful 88 Hours, Part 2 Friday, Mar 11 at 8 p.m. ET/PT

The link to Part 1: https://www.linktv.org/shows/nhk-special/episodes/meltdown-the-fateful-88-hours-part-1]https://www.linktv.org/shows/nhk-special/episodes/meltdown-the-fateful-88-hours-part-1

The link to Part 2: https://www.linktv.org/shows/nhk-special/episodes/meltdown-the-fateful-88-hours-part-2]https://www.linktv.org/shows/nhk-special/episodes/meltdown-the-fateful-88-hours-part-2

Listen to Robert Hunziker on this week’s CounterPunch Radio.

Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at roberthunziker@icloud.com

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Obama Said Hillary will Continue His Legacy and Indeed She Will!
Jeffrey St. Clair
She Stoops to Conquer: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Rob Urie
Long Live the Queen of Chaos
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Evolution of Capitalism, Escalation of Imperialism
Margot Kidder
My Fellow Americans: We Are Fools
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Convention Con
Lewis Evans
Executing Children Won’t Save the Tiger or the Rhino
Vijay Prashad
The Iraq War: a Story of Deceit
Chris Odinet
It Wasn’t Just the Baton Rouge Police Who Killed Alton Sterling
Brian Cloughley
Could Trump be Good for Peace?
Patrick Timmons
Racism, Freedom of Expression and the Prohibition of Guns at Universities in Texas
Gary Leupp
The Coming Crisis in U.S.-Turkey Relations
Pepe Escobar
Is War Inevitable in the South China Sea?
Norman Pollack
Clinton Incorruptible: An Ideological Contrivance
Robert Fantina
The Time for Third Parties is Now!
Andre Vltchek
Like Trump, Hitler Also Liked His “Small People”
Serge Halimi
Provoking Russia
David Rovics
The Republicans and Democrats Have Now Switched Places
Andrew Stewart
Countering The Nader Baiter Mythology
Rev. William Alberts
“Law and Order:” Code words for White Lives Matter Most
Ron Jacobs
Something Besides Politics for Summer’s End
David Swanson
It’s Not the Economy, Stupid
Erwan Castel
A Faith that Lifts Barricades: The Ukraine Government Bows and the Ultra-Nationalists are Furious
Steve Horn
Did Industry Ties Lead Democratic Party Platform Committee to Nix Fracking Ban?
Robert Fisk
How to Understand the Beheading of a French Priest
Colin Todhunter
Sugar-Coated Lies: How The Food Lobby Destroys Health In The EU
Franklin Lamb
“Don’t Cry For Us Syria … The Truth is We Shall Never Leave You!”
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
The Artistic Representation of War and Peace, Politics and the Global Crisis
Frederick B. Hudson
Well Fed, Bill?
Harvey Wasserman
NY Times Pushes Nukes While Claiming Renewables Fail to Fight Climate Change
Elliot Sperber
Pseudo-Democracy, Reparations, and Actual Democracy
Uri Avnery
The Orange Man: Trump and the Middle East
Marjorie Cohn
The Content of Trump’s Character
Missy Comley Beattie
Pick Your Poison
Kathleen Wallace
Feel the About Turn
Joseph Grosso
Serving The Grid: Urban Planning in New York
John Repp
Real Cooperation with Nations Is the Best Survival Tactic
Binoy Kampmark
The Scourge of Youth Detention: The Northern Territory, Torture, and Australia’s Detention Disease
Kim Nicolini
Rain the Color Blue with a Little Red In It
Cesar Chelala
Gang Violence Rages Across Central America
Phillip Kim et al.
Open Letter to Bernie Sanders from Former Campaign Staffers
Tom H. Hastings
Africa/America
Robert Koehler
Slavery, War and Presidential Politics
Charles R. Larson
Review: B. George’s “The Death of Rex Ndongo”
July 28, 2016
Paul Street
Politician Speak at the DNC
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail