Fukushima: It could have been much worse
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In 2011, an earthquake struck Japan.

It was no "normal earthquake," however. This one was big. As in real big. Its epicenter happened to be near a place called Fukushima. What's more, the offshore impact of the quake produced a truly frightening consequence: a tsunami, or what used to be called a "tidal wave."

Perhaps you've seen the video, particularly of the ship that was swept up by the wall of water and then pulverized as the water carried it under a bridge.

Oh, but there was much more. One nuclear power operation came within a whisker of melting down, of spewing tons of radioactive material into the air, contaminating the water for generations.

NOVA, the acclaimed PBS science documentary series, examines how the region was spared even more heartache, destruction and despair -- not that it didn't suffer grievously from the 2011 earthquake and tsumani.


The NOVA segment airs Wednesday at 8 p.m. on Panhandle PBS.

The episode walks us through the events minute by excruciating minute. One plant did suffer terrible damage as a result of the quake and the wall of water. Another plant nearby escaped virtually unscathed.

NOVA asks the question: How did one plant escape horrific damage so close to the other plant?

As the NOVA press release notes: "With unprecedented access inside both Fukushima nuclear power plants, NOVA speaks with workers who were there during the harrowing days — a crisis that began as a natural a disaster but was made worse by human beings."

The segment talks also about how Japan continues to struggle to reintroduce nuclear power to its citizens in the aftermath of the disaster.

I'm betting they've talked to people in, say, France, which relies on nuclear energy to supply roughly 80 percent of its population with electricity.

The cleanup at the site continues to this day. The Japanese are showing the world the meaning of grit and determination. NOVA takes us deeply inside an operation that could have been destroyed, wiped out. It wasn't.

Let's learn how the electrical company that runs the place saved it from destruction.