A photo from the Fukushima front lines

It’s been an exhilarating yet frustrating time lately with this book. On the one hand, I’m doing little book drafting (hence the lack of “offcust posts” in this blog) but it’s all for a good cause. For four stunning new books have come out on two of the defining nuclear reactor accidents. Charles A. Casto (“Chuck” of course, being American) was on the brink of retirement when in 2011 the regulator sent him to Tokyo to help the Japanese out with the Fukushima Daiichi three-melting-down-reactors disaster. An experience engineer, he has now released a book that staggers the imagination, a retelling of the accident based on his own inimitable forensic knowledge and tons of interviewing. He couches the book as “lessons about leadership,” an aspect of no interest to me, but his narrative account is like gold to me, and I’m spending ages taking careful notes.

For example, consider this quick photographic snap in the dark (no power, remember?) control room, just before evacuation, on the second night of the unfolding crisis. “If they all died and someone found the camera, at least there would be a record of those who were there,” is the recollection Casto records. Casto also notes: “The operator … didn’t even bother to look at the camera.”

I’m blown away by the drama.


Casto, Charles A. 2019. Station Blackout: Inside the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster and Recovery. Radius Book Group, New York. Ebook location 1008.