Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fukushima I Nuke Plant Workers to Be Awarded Prince of Asturias Award for Concord

The Prince of Asturias Foundation in Spain has decided to give "Fukushima heroes" - workers at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, firefighters and Self Defense Force soldiers who risked (and are still risking) radiation to contain the nuclear disaster - the 2011 Prince of Asturias Award for Concord (peace prize).

Prince of Asturias is the designation given to the crown prince of Spain, or the heir apparent.

Thank you, your Royal Highness.

From the Foundation's press release on September 7:

The 2011 Prince of Asturias Award for Concord has been bestowed on the “heroes of Fukushima”. The Jury for the Award announced its decision today in Oviedo.

This group of people represent the highest values of the human condition by trying to prevent, through their sacrifice, the nuclear disaster caused by the tsunami that struck Japan from multiplying its devastating effects, disregarding the grave consequences that this decision would have on their lives. Their courageous and exemplary behaviour has earned them the international epithet “heroes of Fukushima”.

This candidature was put forward by Josep Piqué i Camps, president of the Spain-Japan Council Foundation (Madrid) and seconded, among others, by Miguel Angel Navarro, Spain’s ambassador to Japan; Fernando Salazar, vice-president of the Spanish Institute of Foreign Trade; Juan José Herrera, director general of Casa Asia; Daniel Hernandez, rector of the University of Salamanca; and Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, Mayor of Madrid.

Following the massive earthquake and tsunami that occurred in north-eastern Japan on March 11, 2011 and which caused around 28,000 deaths and displaced some 350,000 people, Fukushima nuclear power plant suffered significant damage resulting in hydrogen explosions and fusion of nuclear fuel as well as causing several deaths and serious injuries due to radiation among workers at the plant. The International Atomic Energy Agency and the Japanese government initially placed the alert levels between 5 and 6 on a scale of 7, and finally at 7, as after the Chernobyl accident.

Despite major uncertainty regarding the development of the nuclear emergency, the different groups that worked for weeks in Fukushima did so under extreme conditions (high radiation, continuously rotating shifts and only a few hours of rest, and limited supplies of food and drinking water). As a result, many workers developed chronic pathologies such as arrhythmia and hyperventilation. Despite these grave consequences, they continued to participate in the efforts to regain control of the nuclear plant, aware of how essential their work was to prevent a catastrophe of even greater magnitude.

The work was carried out by three groups of people: employees of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the plant’s operator; of its 130 workers, 50 volunteered, as did some workers who had already retired or were nearing retirement, and, after increasing the number of rotating shifts and the needs for personnel, additional staff was hired (by May 3, 1,312 workers had intervened in Fukushima); fire fighters from various prefectures, especially from Tokyo, who participated in the work of cooling the reactors, a key task to restore control of the plant; and the Japanese Armed Forces, whose work cooling the reactors by launching water from helicopters, inspecting the damage from the air, cordoning off the exclusion area and evacuating people when the reactors emitted very high doses of radiation was very important.

The behaviour of these people has also embodied the values most deeply rooted in Japanese society, such as the sense of duty, personal and family sacrifice for the greater good and dignity in the face of adversity, humility, generosity and courage.


Anonymous said...

Thats all very well but the plant is still unstable and leaking crap everyday.... the doods who dropped water from helicopters were in no way effective... poor buggers now they are contaminated

Anonymous said...

They really have deserved it.

Nectarina said...

I know the Japanese government is really foolish.
However, there are a lot of people among the public who are acting for "Beyond Nuke."
We would like you to know that we are trying our best even in fear and despair.  
I'm a Japanese citizen living in Okayama Prefecture. The following is just one example of such efforts.  

"10 Million People's Action for 'Good-bye Nuke Plant' in Okayama"
Mr.Toshio Kimura's Talk(A former nuclear power plant designer of TEPCO)&Live Performance(Live music by a local artist)
There will be a "Beyond Nuke" event in Okayama City in Okayama Prefecture on Sunday, Sept. 11. 
Details are here (the link is in Japanese):

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 9:48 please don't take it in this way. NOBODY deserved it or everyone did if we are to judge human kind now. I think we must stay rational and symphatetic, helping each other is the most important thing now, I feel sad when I see people blaming Japanese people or generalising about them. What if it had happened in your country...what if it will...think about it, do you really think your people and government would react any better? Do you really think information would be transparent and all people conscious of the risks? And what are we doing now exactly to help? What are our countries doing to really help Japan? I think this is not a problem of Japan only, but of the entire world. And the entire world is just watching, and complaining at most.

Anonymous said...

Nice gesture and all but instead Spain should have offered to pay for the food TEPCO refused to provide to it's workers. Other nations should be shaming the Jgov and TEPCO instead of offering medals that will only reinforce the perception that Japan is doing a good job. Don't get me wrong the actual workers deserve accolades for their sacrifice but I fear when the official history of Fukushima is finally written those in power will use things like medals to forget how badly these men were treated by their own country.

aran said...

From Spain, I think that this is a nice gesture for the sacrifice this people made, who really deserve this is much much more. But, in my opinion, it would be a very much nicer one to do everything needed to avoid this kind of accidents again, so that nobody needs to face this situation any more, and stop using nuclear power. We had Chernobyl, now we have Fukushima, what else does this people need?

In Spain we don't have as many nuclear power plants as in Japan, but we still have, and they're old. The oldest one we have is actually Fukushima Daiichi's unit 1 twin sister, in Garoña. Even japanese technicians from Fukushima came to Garoña in 2010 tu "learn" about the work in it, and about extending the plant's life. You can read about it in english here:

So, dear Highness, add some nice actions to the nice talk.

No nukes!

Anonymous said...

The pereception in Spain is that the 300 men of Fukushima are considered "samurais" in Japan for their work...wrong, most of Japanese people
dont even know that few of them past away...

Japanese officials hasnt release not their names at all, they are annonymous workers, if this happen in the USA people probably will know their names, families and social security numbers... they would be treated as heroes but in Japan where slavery still exist too this is not happening shame on the Japanese media, Gov. and citizens.

Is time to all of us to be united but for god sake we have to learn at least who is causing this, they are just a few of them who are controlling and letting this happening and further more the yen is wayyyy stronger than the Dollar probably hitting records in decades, do you think this is a random market accident?

Even with this chaos Jap. Government is making millions and investing in overseas like 30 years ago, with all this crisis, they are fooling the whole world under the mask of the catastrophe... and getting huge donations that looks like bonuses instead, you dont need a phd to see that.

we are more than them but they are way better organize than us.

History is repeating itself again and again...

Anonymous said...

I respect and have sympathy for the workers, but I think this award is only meant to protect the interests of the European nuclear industry. The award conveys and reinforces these false ideas:
(1) that the crisis is over and the danger is past;
(2) that the actions of TEPCO and the Japanese government have been effective;
(3) that workers understood the extent of the risks they were taking;
(4) that the disaster was "caused by the tsunami";
(5) that the health risks workers face now are only "arrhythmia and hyperventilation";
(6) that those people who were in danger were evacuated;
(7) that catastrophe has been averted.

Imagine instead if the Spanish authorities had praised the courage of the workers, but pointed out that TEPCO and the Japanese government failed to inform them of the dangers, failed to provide adequate safety equipment, failed to follow their own emergency procedures, consistently and repeatedly misrepresented the extent of the damage to the reactors and the resulting contamination, and failed to evacuate contaminated areas. Imagine if the Spanish authorities noted that workers faced not "arrhythmia and hypertension," but cancers and genetic damage. Imagine if the award pointed out that the workers (and the public) might have suffered less injury if TEPCO and the government had not pretended that the reactors had not melted down. Imagine if the award identified by name those who had died and suffered radiation sickness, or who have had high exposure levels.

Imagine if the award had stated that we will need workers to continue making these sacrifices at Fukushima, and throughout the contaminated areas of Japan for the forseeable future -- and that those countries that use nuclear power must demand similar sacrifices of their workers.


Anonymous said...

It's Spanish propaganda,get over it.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Propaganda or not, inadequate or not bold enough, the gesture is highly appreciated, particularly when the Japanese government doesn't even lift a finger to do anything about the plant or the workers.

Anonymous said...

I think the gesture is of little benefit to Japan.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Mike, medals and awards are nice for future propaganda and myth making but they do little to alleviate the unnecessarily harsh conditions still found at the facility. A better offer would be relocation of these people and their families to cleaner areas. Free uncontaminated food and clean accommodations appropriate for decontamination workers those things should be a given along with free work clothing and proper safety equipment.

Anonymous said...

"Nice gesture and all but instead Spain should have offered to pay for the food TEPCO refused to provide to it's workers."

That IS the solution. They want to be shamed and foreigners to do something after months of their own officials denigrating these workers, de facto.

Post a Comment