Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Japan's Heroes: The Fukushima 50 -- Not afraid to die

Since the disaster struck in Japan, about 800 workers have been evacuated from the damaged nuclear complex in Fukushima. The radiation danger is that great.

However, CBS News correspondent Jim Axelrod reports that a handful have stayed on the job, risking their lives, to try to save the lives of countless people they don't even know.

Although communication with the workers inside the nuclear plant is nearly impossible, a CBS News consultant spoke to a Japanese official who made contact with one of the 50 inside the control center.

The official said that his friend, one of the Fukushima 50, told him that he was not afraid to die, that that was his job.

Cham Dallas, who led teams responding to the Chernobyl disaster, said that kind of response is not out of the normal for some workers in the nuclear energy sector.

"(In) my experience of people in the action area of nuclear power is much like that," Dallas said.

The 50 are working amid decreasing but still dangerously high levels of radiation.

"The longer they stay the more dangerous it becomes for them," said expert Margaret Harding. "I think it is a testament to their guts for them to say, 'We'll stay and if that means we go, we go.'" (read more)