The captain that wouldn't leave his sinking shipMasao Yoshida, one of the Fukushima 50 who stayed behind at the earthquake and tsunami-struck power plant after the other employees evacuated, has just died at 58 from esophageal cancer. Doctors have said repeatedly that his cancer has nothing to do with exposure to high doses of radiation, which either makes him very unlucky and lucky at the same time (lucky to have avoided high doses of radiation at the plant, and unlucky to be dying of cancer anyway), or there's an official spin surrounding the news of his illness. We might never know for sure, but it is suspicious...
In any case, this is sad news: Masao Yoshida was a nuclear engineer and the head of the Fukushima Daiichi plant when disaster struck on March 11th, 2011. He is thought to have prevented a much worse nuclear disaster by not following official corporate policy. When asked to stop using seawater to cool the reactors, he disobeyed and kept going, almost certainly preventing more overheating and explosions that could have made the disaster much worse by potentially spreading radioactive materials over a large area.
In [a] video Yoshida shared his feelings and fears towards the disaster.
He recalled the most tragic moments of the catastrophe, when he and his workers thought they would all die due to explosions of hydrogen that were collecting inside damaged reactor blocks.
“When that first [hydrogen] explosion occurred, I really felt we might die,” Yoshida shared, adding that he believed that all those present at the site at the moment had been killed in the explosion. But when he found them alive, though hurt, “I felt awful for those injured, but I felt like Buddha was watching over us,” he said.
“The level of radioactivity on the ground was terrible,” recalled Yoshida, but the workers of the plant “leaped at the chance to go” trying to fix the situation with the reactors. “My colleagues went out there again and again.”
The huge risk of new explosions and radiation contamination at the plant, none of the 250 workers fighting the disaster at the factory actually deserted the operations, while the tsunami in the outside world killed their relatives and destroyed their homes. (source)