Fukushima Hero I, oil monoprint on paper, 42 x 30 cm
Continuing my series on Fukushima Daiichi power plant nuclear disaster, i wanted to dwell on the brave anonymous souls who ventured down into the dark tunnels awash with radioactive water.
Fukushima 50 is the name the media gave to a group of employees of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Station who remained on-site after 750 other workers were evacuated following a serious fire at the plant's unit 4 on 15 March 2011. Since then, over 1,000 other workers have re-joined them, working in shifts of 50 men due to the extremely hazardous radiation present. These include firemen, power-line electricians, soldiers, engineers, young and old. The Japanese Prime minister has said these men are prepared to die. At least 20 have already been injured, some with radiation burns.
Fukushima Hero II, oil monoprint on paper, 42 x 30 cm
I had the sense of them being x-ray ghosts ambiguously emerging from or being swallowed by the darkness all around - hazmat forms vaguely discernible through radioactive steam and the acrid smoke of burning generators and burnout out reactor pumps.
I am moved by the words of one such worker :
“In the midst of the tsunami alarm at 3am in the night when we couldn’t even see where we going, we carried on working to restore the reactors from where we were, right by the sea, with the realisation that this could be certain death. Fighting fatigue and empty stomachs, we dragged ourselves back to work. Everyone at the power plant is battling on, without running away.”
Fukushima Hero III, oil monoprint on paper, 42 x 30 cm
The reality may also have included business suit wearing engineers, draped in blue dust-coats, desperately twiddling knobs in brightly lit clinically clean control rooms and corridors. They too faced the radiation.
However, for me, these images are the doomed and dirty Fukushima Heroes , the Fukushima 50 of my imagination.
The three images were made using a monoprint process.