A comprehensive, though specialized, summary of worker safety in response to Fukushima.




An industrial safety researcher evaluates the procedures at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear reactor following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

In this debut nonfiction book, Yasui draws on a background in occupational safety, including five years overseeing protections for the workers who dealt with the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, to evaluate the successes and failures of the Japanese government’s oversight of employee safety. The author also offers recommendations for readers charged with protecting workers in similar high-risk situations. The volume, based on a series of papers, many previously published in industry journals, addresses the immediate response to the catastrophe, the ongoing monitoring of workers’ health and radiation exposure, the impact of the cleanup efforts, and recommendations for responding to future emergencies. Yasui explores many of the problems faced by those responsible for managing worker safety, including equipment shortages, inefficient tracking methods, and the variability of radiation exposure even within small areas. The author acknowledges both problems and solutions without emphasizing individual or organizational fault (“If there had been well-prepared manuals and a sufficient number of proper respiratory masks, the operators could have responded appropriately”). The book’s subject matter is of interest and relevance to a limited number of specialists, and as a result the prose and structure are not designed to appeal to general readers. The writing features a high concentration of both acronyms and technical jargon (“On March 22, 2011, TEPCO restarted internal exposure monitoring using two vehicle-mounted WBCs borrowed from JAEA and located at the Onahama Coal Centre 50 km from the APP”). But the information supplied is thorough, with hard data provided in many cases and detailed notes at the end of each chapter delivering both citations and sources for further examination. The book includes concrete recommendations for mitigating risk to workers involved in similar situations, and Yasui concludes with a suggested study design for evaluating the ongoing health needs of emergency workers, presenting guidance for monitoring the long-term effects of prolonged exposure to significant amounts of radiation. Appendices include a useful, detailed timeline of events following the nuclear emergency and government-issued press releases.

A comprehensive, though specialized, summary of worker safety in response to Fukushima.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-974120-20-8

Page Count: 286

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2017

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Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science...


Bryson (I'm a Stranger Here Myself, 1999, etc.), a man who knows how to track down an explanation and make it confess, asks the hard questions of science—e.g., how did things get to be the way they are?—and, when possible, provides answers.

As he once went about making English intelligible, Bryson now attempts the same with the great moments of science, both the ideas themselves and their genesis, to resounding success. Piqued by his own ignorance on these matters, he’s egged on even more so by the people who’ve figured out—or think they’ve figured out—such things as what is in the center of the Earth. So he goes exploring, in the library and in company with scientists at work today, to get a grip on a range of topics from subatomic particles to cosmology. The aim is to deliver reports on these subjects in terms anyone can understand, and for the most part, it works. The most difficult is the nonintuitive material—time as part of space, say, or proteins inventing themselves spontaneously, without direction—and the quantum leaps unusual minds have made: as J.B.S. Haldane once put it, “The universe is not only queerer than we suppose; it is queerer than we can suppose.” Mostly, though, Bryson renders clear the evolution of continental drift, atomic structure, singularity, the extinction of the dinosaur, and a mighty host of other subjects in self-contained chapters that can be taken at a bite, rather than read wholesale. He delivers the human-interest angle on the scientists, and he keeps the reader laughing and willing to forge ahead, even over their heads: the human body, for instance, harboring enough energy “to explode with the force of thirty very large hydrogen bombs, assuming you knew how to liberate it and really wished to make a point.”

Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science into perspective.

Pub Date: May 6, 2003

ISBN: 0-7679-0817-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003

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Ackerman writes with a light but assured touch, her prose rich in fact but economical in delivering it. Fans of birds in all...


Science writer Ackerman (Ah-Choo!: The Uncommon Life of Your Common Cold, 2010, etc.) looks at the new science surrounding avian intelligence.

The takeaway: calling someone a birdbrain is a compliment. And in any event, as Ackerman observes early on, “intelligence is a slippery concept, even in our own species, tricky to define and tricky to measure.” Is a bird that uses a rock to break open a clamshell the mental equivalent of a tool-using primate? Perhaps that’s the wrong question, for birds are so unlike humans that “it’s difficult for us to fully appreciate their mental capabilities,” given that they’re really just small, feathered dinosaurs who inhabit a wholly different world from our once-arboreal and now terrestrial one. Crows and other corvids have gotten all the good publicity related to bird intelligence in recent years, but Ackerman, who does allow that some birds are brighter than others, points favorably to the much-despised pigeon as an animal that “can remember hundreds of different objects for long periods of time, discriminate between different painting styles, and figure out where it’s going, even when displaced from familiar territory by hundreds of miles.” Not bad for a critter best known for bespattering statues in public parks. Ackerman travels far afield to places such as Barbados and New Caledonia to study such matters as memory, communication, and decision-making, the last largely based on visual cues—though, as she notes, birds also draw ably on other senses, including smell, which in turn opens up insight onto “a weird evolutionary paradox that scientists have puzzled over for more than a decade”—a matter of the geometry of, yes, the bird brain.

Ackerman writes with a light but assured touch, her prose rich in fact but economical in delivering it. Fans of birds in all their diversity will want to read this one.

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59420-521-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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