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Saturday, 24 September 2011

Heroes of Fukushima get Award

Those brave heroes of Fukushima who risked high radiation to battle the nuclear disaster in Japan have won Spain’s prestigious Prince of Asturias Concord prize this month.

On 11 March this year, the towering wall of water from the tsunami battered the cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, triggering reactor meltdown and leakage of radiation into the environment. Tens of thousands of people within a 20km radius were evacuated, but selfless workers endured high doses of radiation to combat the crisis.

The Prince of Asturias Award jury stated, ‘This group of people represent the highest values of the human condition by trying to prevent, through their sacrifice, a nuclear disaster… disregarding the grave consequences that this decision would have on their lives.’

As a result, many workers developed chronic pathologies such as arrhythmia and hyperventilation. The jury identified three groups of heroes of Fukushima: the 50 volunteer employees of the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company; the firefighters who worked to cool the reactors; and the Japanese armed forces who dumped water on the reactors from the air.

In conclusion, the jury said, ‘The behavior 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.’

The original fifty who stayed on at the plant swelled by a few hundred as time passed.

Winners of the Prince of Asturias Award are endowed with 50,000 euros, a sculpture and a diploma. The actual presentation will be made by Crown Prince Felipe, the prince of Asturias, later this year.

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