Sunday, March 11, is the one-year anniversary of the nuclear disaster of Japan’s’ Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant and so, in consideration of that, I have a very fitting book review.
You know my penchant for novels in the preparedness and disaster-survival vein, so several weeks back, I downloaded a few more for my Kindle. One that piqued my curiosity was called The Nuclear Catastrophe by Barbara Griffin Billig (and Ponkha Bett). It’s about a nuclear power plant that malfunctioned after an earthquake and then released huge amounts of radiation. Hmmm… that sounded kind of familiar.
Imagine my surprise to realize that it was actually a re-release of a prescient book from the 70’s! So, before Chernobyl even happened, the author had imagined a scenario very close to what actually happened in real life in Japan. Kind of makes you think that if a “regular person” could figure out the danger, that the “experts” sure should have been able to!
I thought the characters were well done. One of the primary ones was a plant manager who was himself insistent that “it” could never happen. He had such pride and faith in the technology that it was just inconceivable to him that it could possibly fail. Many others were caught completely unaware and everyone was woefully unprepared. The trials each person faced brought out the best in some people and the worst in others.
The story took place in the Los Angeles area, so the characters had to work through some very plausible problems like lack of safe water, looting, need for medical care, radiation illnesses, and of course, loss of power.
I would like to have seen the story taken a little farther, maybe an epilogue that revisited the site and characters one year later. I would be curious to know the author'(s) vision of the longer term.
Some have been quite critical of the book, accusing it of being a vehicle for bashing nuclear energy. While it’s not a secret that author(s) are quite concerned with the number of nuclear power plants that have been built and the possible safety issues not yet thoroughly prepared for (as evidenced by the meltdown at Fukushima), to me the book did not read as anti-nuclear propaganda. I think, as Sam Winston put it, she just wrote about what she worried about.
I didn’t have a firm opinion about nuclear energy before I read the book. I’m not staunchly against it in all circumstances now that I’ve finished it, though I think more protections ought to be in place and the plants probably should not be allowed within a certain distance of highly populated areas. What reading it did was give me some more to think about and plan for. We had already stored KIO3 anyway, but radiation is something I need to do more research on for myself.
For example, I’m realizing that I was mentally thinking that I could check radiation concerns off my list with potassium iodate in our preps. Now I’m thinking that I need to read more. Will KIO3 just protect us from thyroid cancer in the future but do nothing for us in the short term with regards to skin damage, etc? What could we purchase or do that would sufficiently protect our skin, eyesight, lungs, etc? Would our root cellar offer protection if we rode out the worst of it in there? And so on. I’ve been thinking about some of these things since reading Jacqueline Druga’s book Dust.
Overall, I think this book is well worth reading and most of you will probably enjoy it. As an added incentive, in honor of the anniversary of the disaster, this book will be available as a free download on Sunday, March 11. Take advantage of it!
If you’ve read it already, what did you think? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section.