the fukushima 50

Filed Under (Inspiration) by Estee on 16-03-2011

I woke to Peter Armstrong from CBC News reporting on the radiation surge at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. What a disaster of proportions only imagined by me, as I watch images of towns completely destroyed by water. On the television screen the water appears to roll in calmly. Then, as houses are torn from their foundations and begin crashing into others, I get a sense of what this image, in real time, may feel and sound like.

The ruin in Japan is almost unbelievable; this country which prepared itself, by code, for such a natural disaster. Yet, parts could not hold. I began to think about the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, where friends stayed in Sri Lanka and told me their story of how the water surged to their hotel. My boyfriend flew there the following day. He showed me pictures of the ruin, recounting the despondent men searching along the beach for their missing wives and children.

A group of Sri Lankan women posed for him despite the atrophy. All bunched together as if for a Facebook party photo, their teeth and eyes gleamed. I couldn’t tell from a picture if they were just happy to be alive, or happy to be in a photo taken by a Westerner. Even that simple act brought happiness. Or was their happiness innate?

Which brings me to the Fukushima 50 — those employees of the nuclear power plant in Japan. They were left at the plant to assess damage and cool the reactors with seawater to avert a possible meltdown. It’s not going well. Still, they remain to try and avert a disaster — to protect others. These fifty or so men will die. Their exposure to the radiation will be too much.

Fifty men. A group of smiling women on a ravaged beach captured in a photo. Bravery and human spirit are remarkable gifts.

Bless them all.


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About Me


I’m a PhD candidate at York University, Critical Disability Studies, with a multi-disciplinary background in the arts as a curator and writer. I am the Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project (, and an enamoured mother of my only son who lives with the autism label. I like to write about our journey, critical issues regarding autism in the area of human rights, law, and social justice, as well as reflexive practices in (auto)ethnographic writing about autism.