“Fukushima 50” Workers Risk Lives to Protect Japan from Nuclear Disaster

A group of nuclear power plant workers remained behind at the dangerous plant to protect their country from a nuclear explosion.

In a nation’s most tragic moments, its greatest heroes are born.

On September 11th, 2001, the U.S. drew on the strength of the firefighters, police officers, and other rescue officials who tirelessly worked to save lives at the World Trade Center—and now in Japan, in the wake of an earthquake, a tsunami, and a nuclear crisis, a group of nuclear plant workers are proving their courage.

The earthquake on March 11th had shut off Fukushima’s nuclear power plant and halted its protective cooling systems. Now, a fire had broken out, and workers had been told that the plant’s radiation was now at levels that could be harmful to human health. Hundreds of workers fled the facility immediately. But a group of 200 employees decided to stay behind to battle the blaze and contain the damage-—even though doing so could cause permanent health problems. The employees work in shifts of 50, which has given them the nickname the Fukushima 50.

Little is known about the workers, who are primarily technicians with the skills to monitor and manage the situation. However, one woman shared on Twitter that her father had volunteered to stay behind. “I heard that he volunteered even though he will be retiring in just half a year and my eyes are filling up with tears…. At home, he doesn’t seem like someone who could handle big jobs…but today, I was really proud of him. And I pray for his safe return.”