Spain honours Heroes of Fukushima

08 September 2011

Spain has recognized the bravery and dedication of the workers who helped bring the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident under control by awarding them the Prince of Asturias Award for Concord.


Fukushima Daiichi workers (Tepco)
Workers reconnecting external power to the Fukushima Daiichi plant in late March (Image: Tepco)


The jury for the award selected the Fukushima workers as its recipient from a list of 44 nominations from around the world. The Prince of Asturias Foundation said that the jury has "valued the serene, self-sacrificing response of Japanese society as a whole since the events of March 2011, which had its highest expression in the groups of people who, taking that self-sacrifice to a heroic level, risked their own lives to undertake work in the stricken plant and its surroundings." This group provides the world "with an example of courage in the face of adversity, the sense of duty, defence of the common good and civic awareness."


Work to stabilize the damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant following the earthquake and tsunami was carried out by three groups: employees and contractors of plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco); fire-fighters from various prefectures; and members of Japan's armed forces. Many of these were involved in initial efforts to keep the reactors cool by dropping water on them from helicopters and spraying them with water using fire trucks.


"Despite major uncertainty regarding the development of the nuclear emergency, the different groups that worked for weeks in Fukushima did so under extreme conditions," the foundation said. "They continued to participate in the efforts to regain control of the nuclear plant, aware of how essential their work was."


The judging panel said, "The behaviour of these people has also embodied the values most deeply rooted in Japanese society, such as the sense of duty, personal and family sacrifice for the greater good and dignity in the face of adversity, humility, generosity and courage."


It concluded that the group's "courageous and exemplary behaviour has earned them the international epithet 'Heroes of Fukushima'."


Prince of Asturias Awards have been awarded annually since 1981. According to the statutes of the foundation, the awards aim to "reward the scientific, technical, cultural, social and humanistic work performed at an international level by individual, institutions or groups of individuals or institutions." Each of the eight awards comes with €50,000 ($70,000), a commissioned sculpture, a diploma and an insignia.


The 2011 awards will be presented later in the year at a ceremony in the northern Spanish city of Oviedo, chaired by Felipe, Prince of Asturias.


Researched and written

by World Nuclear News


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