How many backup plans make a nuke plant safe?

Japan’s news network, NHK, has produced a video to show what’s happening at the country’s nuclear power plants. The big fear at the Fukushima complex, north of Tokyo, has seen explosions at two of its reactors on Saturday and today.

The situation brings up a question: How many backup systems should nuclear power plants have to prevent damage to the nuclear core? What we’ve found out so far is that two back-up plans aren’t enough.

Chie Matsumoto, a freelance journalist, has been sending us updates in recent days. Amazingly, he says the shocking videos we’ve been watching for the last four days, don’t accurately portray how bad things are. He describes a country in which the people of Minnesota probably know more about what’s happening than the people of Japan:

I was in Rikuzen-Takada City Sunday, and I saw the aftermath of the tsunami, what it left behind. It is beyond what words can describe. I am sorry to say that the video footage of TV news doesn’t do a justice to the people who suffered the tsunami and people who were killed by it.

Disaster really wasn’t the earthquake, but it was the tsunami. I went over some cracks on the road. I saw a few houses with parts of walls fallen. Tsunami was what destroyed all, not the earthquake.

People received the warning through the city speakers that are set up outside. They heard, “A big tsunami is coming. You need to evacuate.” Shortly after, they heard, “Run!” The announcement was cut off and the people never heard fromn the speakers, or the people who announced it, again. The few people assigned to announced it were at the disaster prevention center, and they went missing.

They sacrificed their lives to send everyone else to a safer place. They gave priority to others’ safety than to surviving. The disaster prevention center is now under the mud brought on by the tsunami.

Some people even managed to evacuate to designated shelters, but the facilities were too close to the sea. When they thought they were safe, the tidal wave washed the buildings and the people’s lives with it.

A 58-year-old man was dying to go look for his missing family member, but he was trying to tell people to turn back on top of the hill, when another tsunami warning was issued, maybe the third one since the initial tsunami. The volunteer fireman in the community was obliged to stand on streets directing traffic so that people wouldn’t enter the risky area.

“I’m doing this to prevent further disaster,” he said, wearing long rain boots and traditional fireman’s jacket. His 24-year-old son was still missing, but he has almost given up on him. Having seen the tsunami from the aftermath, he said, “Having witnessed what tsunami did to this town, I’m almost given up.”

The people warning their fellow citizens in exchange of their own lives and the man who killed his longings for his son both explain the royalty, the sense of obligation the Japanese people suffer from.

Indescribable emotions took over me when I was walking through the debris that extend miles away and talking to the locals trying to search their beloved families and friends.

Every time I tried to explain the situation, send a word of comfort to locals, I choke up. All the swirling emotions only turn into useless tears.

I heard lots of voices today, and the only thing I think about now is to let others hear their voices.

They need information. No electricity, no batteries, no news. They have no idea what it going on around them. There is serious shortage of food. It is just so overwhelming that I can’t explain in words, but I just hope and want the words to get out.