PLEASE NOTE: This transcript is being provided for educational purposes only to be used in conjunction with a university course designed to raise awareness of the serious environmental issues that the documentary film An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power addresses. The kind understanding of the filmmakers will be appreciated with respect to any copyright issues which may arise, and it is hoped that permission to use this material will be granted so that the message Mr. Al Gore puts forth may be disseminated among the students participating in this course.

Students are encouraged to purchase their own copies of this important documentary on DVD.

Thank you.

Tony Del Vecchio, M.Ed.






♦  Conservative TV Talk Show Hosts Talking About Al Gore



John Stossel: Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth won him an Oscar, and yet, much of the movie is nonsense. “Sea levels may rise 20 feet” is absurd!

Monica Crowley: But this is Al Gore. He always goes down the road of hyperbole. Not only is he losing the argument on climate change, but he’s losing the science as   well.

Sterling Burnett: You don’t go see Joseph Goebbels’ films to see the truth about Nazi Germany. You don’t want to go see Al Gore’s film to see the truth about global warming.

Sean Hannity: And it’s the most severe winter storm in years, which would seem to contradict Al Gore’s hysterical global warming theories.

Steve Doocy: Donald Trump says he’s had it up to here with Al Gore and is calling for the Nobel Peace Prize committee to take the prize away.


♦  United States Senate Hearing (March 21, 2007)



U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK): Yes or no, do you believe that human-caused global warming is a moral, ethical, and spiritual issue affecting our survival?

Former U.S. Vice-President and Senator Al Gore: Yes, I do.

Inhofe: Yes or no, do you believe that reducing fossil fuel-based energy usage will lead to lower greenhouse gas emissions?

Gore: Basically, yes. I don’t think we…

Inhofe: That’s… That’s good. Senator Gore…

Gore: If I could just, uh, continue…

Inhofe: Well, you can’t. Now, it seems that everything is blamed on global warming. Last summer, we had a heat wave, and everyone said, “Oh, that’s proof it’s global warming.” Then we had a mild December. “Oh, that’s           proof” “it’s global warming that’s taking place.” Now, I wonder how come you guys    never seem to notice it when it gets cold?

Gore: The National Academy of Sciences here in this country and in the 16 largest or most-developed countries in the world agrees with the consensus that I’ve stated.

Inhofe: Senator Gore, my time is almost expired completely. Are you aware of that? It seems that everybody…

Gore: I would like to respond. May I respond?

Inhofe: …global warming in the media joined the chorus…

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA): Excuse me, Senator Inhofe. How can you ask a question and not give the man a minute to answer? Please.

Gore: Senator, thank you. Um… I’ve been sitting here trying to think what I could do or say that, uh… That might make it possible to reach out to you. And I’m serious about this. I’d love to, um, talk with you without the cameras and without the lights and… And tell you, uh, why I feel so strongly about this.


♦  Staff Planning Meeting, Office of Al Gore, Nashville, Tennessee (August 2015) 


Woman: And we’ve got to call the other, I think, three or four speakers for the Generation Client Conference, too.

Gore: All right, so now back to the Paris conference. I’d like a briefing on the must-do meetings in Paris. And I’ll circle back to Christiana well before then on how I can best help her. I need to talk to Secretary Kerry – about the long-term goal.

Woman: Mmm-hmm.

Gore: I want to schedule the China climate training during the first three months of the year.

Man: I think it would be good to lock that down.

Gore: Yeah, definitely.


♦  Climate Leadership Training, Houston, Texas



 Since An Inconvenient Truth came out ten years ago, climate-related extreme weather events have gotten so much worse. And so I’ve continued to give my slideshow all around the world. Actually, there were times when it really looked bleak and dark because the forces trying to stop the change regrouped and poured tons of money in trying to paralyze the political system in the U.S. and in other countries. I got really discouraged. And there came a time for me when I felt, wow, we could lose this struggle. We need to recruit more people.


Gore (addressing training session attendees): Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you. I hope you’re having a productive and enjoyable, wonderful time at this training session. I’ve been doing this a long time. And I was reminded recently of how long it’s been since I started this. I was sitting in a restaurant. A woman came walking by in front of my table, just staring at me. And I didn’t think anything of it until, a few moments later, I saw the same woman coming from the opposite direction, just staring at me. So I looked up and I said, “How do you do?” And she took one step forward and she said, “You know, if you dyed your hair black, you would look just like Al Gore.” And so I said, “Thank you.” And she said, “You sound like him, too.”

But anyway… One of the comedians on TV said recently, “The way you know global warming is real is if the hottest year ever is the year you’re currently in.”


Fourteen of the 15 hottest years ever measured have been since 2001. The hottest of all was 2016.


This graph shows average temperatures from 1951 through 1980. The white are the normal days, the blue are the cooler-than-average days, and the red are warmer-than-average days. And in the 1980s, the entire curve shifted to the warm side. And we saw, for the first time, the appearance of a statistically significant number of extremely hot days in the lower right.


In the 1990s, the curve shifted further. And in the last ten years, the extremely hot days have become more numerous than the cooler-than-average days. We still have cool days. We still have cold days. But these extremely hot days are becoming much more numerous.


In April of this year, the temperature over Greenland was much higher than normal. An engineer on one of the helicopters took a video during this temperature spike. Those are parts of the glacier just exploding with the high temperatures.


♦  Kangilerngata Glacier, West Greenland




Prof. Eric Rignot: So, you see the line on the ridge here?

Gore: Yes.

Rignot: That grey line is where the ice surface was back in the ’80s. Not so long ago.

Gore: Not long ago at all.


Gore: It’s amazing to think that just 30 years ago, where we are right now, it was all covered by the big ice sheet.

Rignot: I think a lot of us are a bit shell-shocked by some of the changes. It’s a bit hard to believe.


♦  Swiss Camp Climate Station, Central Greenland




Dr. Konrad Steffen: Welcome to Swiss Camp! We have 20 automatic weather stations measuring the climate. Swiss Camp is just one of them.


Steffen: This is the cumulative height change of melt.

Gore: Yes. I see.

Steffen: Since 2000 to now, we lost 12 meters of ice at that elevation.

Gore: Wow.


Steffen: That was our former station, level with the surface.


Steffen: Very deep pillars. We came back next season. That’s where we are now.


Steffen: Now you see how it starts. This is a tiny moulin here.


Gore: So, it’s going straight down there?


Steffen: That’s the big moulin.


Steffen: So the water rushes down. And since it’s heavier than ice, it pushes its way underneath the ice sheet. And we can measure how the ice is lifted up a few millimeters to a centimeter. And then the ice moves fast and you reduce the friction.

Gore: And, in effect, the ice sheet starts speeding up in its flow toward the ocean.

Steffen: That’s correct.


Gore: So this makes the ice mass like Swiss cheese.

Steffen: You call it “Swiss cheese.” We call it Emmentaler.




 It is frustrating that for many years, I’ve tried to communicate that we’ve got to act on the climate crisis. But it’s not happening fast enough. If I said there weren’t times when I felt this was a personal failure on my part, I’d be lying.


♦  Climate Leadership Training, Houston, Texas


Gore: So where is all that water going? I’ll tell you where some of it’s going. It’s going into the streets of Miami Beach, Florida.


♦  Miami Beach, Florida


Female newscaster: High tides continue to bring a flood of frustration.

Male newscaster # 1: Fort Lauderdale gets the award for the “something you don’t see every day” video. Fish swimming on Cordova Road.

Male newscaster # 2:Experts say in 30 years or so, a drive along Ocean Drive could be a drive in the ocean. Downtown Miami could be awash.

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine: We’re showing you an area that hasn’t been actually fixed at all, as you can tell. And then, on Wednesday, we’re gonna show you some of the areas that used to be like this, but now we raised the road and put in pumps. We’ve seen dramatic results. It’s so much better.

Gore: So you raised the road with saltwater-resistant materials?

Levine: Yes.

Gore: And what level of sea level rise is this designed to protect against?

Engineer # 1: We are building in about a foot of sea level rise. And I’m sure the projections are gonna continue to move.

Gore: Kinda hard to pump the ocean.

Engineer # 1: That’s why we’ve got to raise above it.

Levine: Yeah, it’s not easy. It’s not easy. This is not a simple fix.

Engineer # 2: You can only raise so much before you change everybody’s lives around here.

Engineer # 3: Scott and I grew up here. This wasn’t the case 40 years ago. So if anyone wants to argue that it’s not happening… It’s happening. It’s happening.

Gore: It’s coming out of the manholes, coming out of the drains. And this is while the pumps are operating at full capacity. This is a stopgap measure at best.


♦  Climate Leadership Training Miami Beach, Florida


Gore (addressing training session attendees): Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. I am so excited to be here and so excited that you are here for this training.

I’m a little bit late getting here because I got up early and put on some wading boots and went over to a couple of the streets that are filled up with water this morning. Miami, in terms of assets at risk, is the number one city at risk in the entire world for sea level rise. This is a major crisis.

Projected sea level rise in South Florida, possibly seven feet or more in this century.

By population, the top ten cities at risk: Kolkata, Mumbai, Dhaka, Guangzhou, China, et cetera.

West Africa. A lot of people at risk there.

And, of course, the low-lying islands, the Maldives have an enormous amount at risk.

Kiribati has already purchased land to move its entire population.

And again, this is from the city we’re in right now. I mean, I just wonder how the governor sloshes through this and says, “I don’t notice anything. Do you notice anything?”


♦  Interviews with Journalists



Jenny Staletovich, Miami Herald: So, Florida is a challenge…

Gore: I can confirm that

Staletovich: So, that’s the big question we have. I cover the climate, environmental stuff all the time, and you have a state with a governor who wouldn’t even meet with scientists to talk about climate change. How do you move forward on it?


Gore: In order to address the environmental crisis, we are gonna have to spend some time fixing the democracy crisis. Because big money has so much influence now, our democracy has been hacked. Large contributors call the shots.

Staletovich: Have you ever thought about running for office again?

Gore: I’ve used this line before, so forgive me, but I am a recovering politician. And the longer I go without a relapse, the less likely one becomes.



Chris Hayes, MSNBC: So, I just wanted to say, we’ll probably do, sort of, three buckets of stuff.

Gore: Is one of them climate?

Hayes: Yes. One of them is climate, one of them is sort of broadly like how politics are different now than they were, say, 15 years ago. Citizens United… I’m interested to hear your thoughts on that.

Gore: Okay, yeah.

Hayes: And then some 2016 stuff.

Gore: Okay. I’m not gonna commit news.

Hayes: Yes, I know. But I’ll try to get you to.

Gore: Okay. But we will talk about climate?

Hayes: Yeah, yeah, yeah! I got to feed the beast, Mr. Vice President.


Gore: Sometimes it seems to me that the climate crisis is simply not getting the kind of coverage in the media that it should.

Hayes: You have a Republican Party right now… Historically large field, right? There’s no one on climate in the entire lineup.


Gore: Since when did the United States abandon its traditional world leadership role? Especially at a time when, just this past week, the President of China says, “Okay, we’re going to adopt a cap and trade program,” “and we’re reducing our CO2 emissions,” “and we want to create jobs” “in solar and wind and efficiency.” This is the most serious global challenge we’ve ever faced. No other country can play the role that the U.S. can play.



Vanessa Hauc, Telemundo: Do you think that we’re reaching that tipping point to the point that it’s not going to be any more denial?

Gore: We are at a turning point. And we can successfully reach an agreement in this big global negotiation in Paris at the end of November to have a real meaningful turn in the right direction.

Hauc: At what moment did you decide that you wanted to leave politics aside and actually move into this, uh, new career that you have?

Gore: Well, to be honest, that decision was one made by the Supreme Court of the United States. I enjoyed politics, but this is a mission that I have dedicated myself to. And there’s a hunger for information about what’s happening, why it’s happening, and how we can fix it.


♦  First Climate Leadership Training, Carthage, Tennessee (2006)

Gore: I usually start with a black screen. And, trust me, after only two or three times through, you will associate your own way of telling each story with the picture, and it’ll come so easily. The way the memory works…



Ten years ago, I made the decision to launch a training program, so that anyone who wanted to learn the skills to communicate to thousands of others could come and get trained. There were only 50 of them in the beginning. But I look back on that first training and it makes me smile, because they were real pioneers, in my way of thinking about it.


Gore: This is the first picture that any of us ever saw of the Earth from space. It was taken on Christmas Eve, 1968, during the Apollo 8 mission. And this was the first time that human beings left near-Earth orbit and went far enough into space to see the planet whole, floating in the void.



And I’ve always started my slideshows with those pictures. When people can see the Earth from space, they naturally find it easier to feel a connection to our shared home.


And the last image from the Apollo program, The Blue Marble, the one picture of the entire Earth fully illuminated, completely changed the way people think about the planet. It energized the modern environmental movement. I put that picture on my office wall in the West Wing of the White House, and I looked at it every day.



I called up NASA and I said, “Hey, I’ve been looking at this same picture here,” “and I’m just wondering if there’s another one.” I thought, what if we could have images on a daily basis? Might that help to build the commitment people have for saving the climate balance? And that’s when I learned there’s really not another one.



That’s what led to the idea of the DSCOVR satellite. Not only for these pictures, but because of the amazing scientific data gathering that you can do from that special point in space.



There was opposition in the Congress. I was about to run for president, and that may have had something to do with it. But once I finally got it approved, other instruments started being added to it. And one was the crucial early-warning device for solar storms that threaten electric utility grids and pipelines. And NASA built the satellite, gave it a launch date.


And then after the Supreme Court decision and the inauguration of Bush and Cheney, they canceled the satellite launch. The new administration, they didn’t really realize they were also canceling this solar storm early-warning system. And the businesses that depend on it started making a lot of noise. And they proposed to resolve that quandary by taking all of the climate instruments and the camera off of the satellite, replacing them with the equivalent of sandbags and only leaving the one instrument that these powerful industries wanted to be put into orbit.




I thought, “Wow, that is extremism.” By the end of it, this satellite was put in storage.



We had a real opportunity to start building enough public support to really get on track to solving the climate crisis. But we lost that opportunity. And now, we cannot afford to lose it again.


~ End of Part One ~


Download PDF File here:

AIS TTP Transcript (Pt. 1)


























The Khumbu Glacier, Nepal, March 2012 

(Photographs by Tony Del Vecchio)


Everest Base Camp (5,364 meters) 

(Photograph by Tony Del Vecchio)



Mount Everest (8,848 meters) from Kala Pattar (5,545 meters), Nepal, March 2012 

(Photographs by Tony Del Vecchio)


Answer Keys

Answer Keys will be made available AFTER we go over all of the material together in class.


That is all.



10 Years after An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore May Actually Be Winning


“Ten years ago, the slide show became An Inconvenient Truth, the documentary that spread those ideas to millions. Gore says he still tinkers with the slide show every day, because, well, the numbers keep changing. Not always for the better. Yet this year Gore and his fellow activists have a rare reason to celebrate. In April, 175 world leaders gathered at the United Nations to sign the Paris Agreement, a global pact that aims to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. Now, a decade after his movie sounded the alarm about climate change and 16 years after he ran for president, it looks like Al Gore might finally be … winning?”


1) Read the rest of the story here. (25 minutes)
10 Years After An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore May Actually Be Winning | WIRED


2) Watch the TED Talk here [press CC icon for English subtitles]. (25 minutes)


Write a short, 300 – 400 word essay giving your reaction or opinion to the article and the TED talk. You can refer to the original film, An Inconvenient Truth (2006), in your essay. (40 minutes)






Nuclear Power Plant

Questions for Discussion


1)   What factors do you think were responsible for the crisis at Fukushima? How might the disaster have been avoided?


2)   How did Japanese people feel about nuclear power before the Fukushima accident? How do you think most people feel now?


3)   How would you assess the response on the part of TEPCO and the Japanese government following the disaster at Fukushima Dai-Ichi?


4)   Assuming that nuclear power will continue to be used in Japan, how can future accidents like Fukushima be avoided?


5)   What are the pros and cons of nuclear power?


6)   Given that global warming is a serious problem facing the planet, does nuclear power present an acceptable option, despite the risks associated with it?


7)   What other energy options are available to Japan besides nuclear power? What are the pros and cons of each?


Get PDF file here:

Nuclear Power Questions for Discussion




Inside Japan’s Nuclear Meltdown

 Dan Edge


Part II


8:00 AM
 Day 4

NARRATOR: Back at the plant, the situation was about to get even worse. The explosion had already set back efforts to get water into the melting cores of Reactors 1 and 2. Now Reactor 3 was also in meltdown. TEPCO needed help.

A specialist team of soldiers was ordered to the site. Another hydrogen build-up meant the Reactor 3 housing could explode at any moment.

Col. SHINJI IWAKUMA: [through interpreter] I was desperately trying to work out how we could get the job done quickly. I was nervous. Although we had trained for it, this was actually our first time in a radioactive area.

NARRATOR: Colonel Shinji Iwakuma and his team wore suits that shielded their bodies from radioactive particles but provided no protection against lethal gamma rays. Their mission was to inject water directly into the core of Reactor 3.

Col. SHINJI IWAKUMA: [through interpreter] Just as we were about to get out of the jeep to connect the hose, it exploded. Lumps of concrete came ripping through the roof of the jeep. Radioactive matter was leaking in through the bindings of our masks. Our dosimeter alarms were ringing constantly.

NARRATOR: The soldiers were now surrounded by lethally radioactive debris. They were injured in the blast but managed to flee the scene before anyone received a fatal dose.

Col. SHINJI IWAKUMA: [through interpreter] I was desperate to get away from the danger. We were lucky on many levels. We were lucky. Just lucky.

3:00 PM 
Day 4

NARRATOR: Parts of the nuclear plant were now completely off limits to the workers. Radiation levels near one of the reactor buildings were at 1,000 millisieverts per hour. After an hour of exposure at these levels, radiation sickness sets in. A few hours would mean death.

TAKASHI SATO: [through interpreter] In the control room, people were saying we were finished. They were saying it quietly, but they were saying it. We felt we had to flee. This was the end.

3:00 AM 
Day 5

NARRATOR: That night in Tokyo, the prime minister was awakened with a disturbing message. He says he was told that TEPCO planned to withdraw their workers from the plant.

NAOTO KAN: [subtitles] I thought withdrawal was out of the question. If they withdrew, six reactors and seven fuel pools would be abandoned. Everything would melt down. Radiation tens of times worse than Chernobyl would be scattered.

NARRATOR: At that moment in Fukushima, the plant manager, Masao Yoshida, had gathered all the workers together.

“MURAKAMI”: [through interpreter] Yoshida said, “Starting now, we are going to evacuate.” At that point, Yoshida was resigned to his fate. I’m sure he was prepared to die himself, but he couldn’t kill 250 people. So he said, “Just go home. We’ve done this much. We can do no more. Just go home.”

TAKASHI SATO: [through interpreter] It’s probably bad to admit it, but I was relieved. I just wanted to get out.

5:30 AM
 Day 5

NARRATOR: Meanwhile, the prime minister was arriving at TEPCO headquarters in Tokyo, determined to stop total withdrawal. He demanded to speak to TEPCO’s executives. Via a video link, he was watched by the engineers in Fukushima.

NAOTO KAN: [subtitles] I said, “This is a very tough situation. But you cannot abandon the plant. The fate of Japan hangs in the balance. All those over 60 should be prepared to lead the way in a dangerous place. Otherwise, we’re handing Japan over to an invisible enemy. This would affect not just Japan, but the whole world.”

NARRATOR: To this day, there is controversy about what TEPCO intended. The company executives say they never planned to completely abandon the plant.

AKIO KOMORI, Managing Director, TEPCO Nuclear Division: [subtitles] We never said that all employees would withdraw. We said we wanted to look into withdrawing. We were considering withdrawing some of the workers.

NARRATOR: That morning, TEPCO evacuated all but a skeleton crew led by plant manager Yoshida. The remaining men were to become known as the Fukushima 50. For now, they were locked down in the central control room.

“MURAKAMI”: [through interpreter] The radiation level was ridiculously high. We just didn’t know what to do. The reactors were unmanned. Unmanned.

NARRATOR: Hundreds of workers were on standby a few miles away, ready to lay pipes that could pump water into the reactors. But the radiation levels were now too high for them to approach the plant.

A team of American nuclear specialists, who’d just arrived in Japan, were fearful that TEPCO and the government had run out of ideas.

CHUCK CASTO, Nuclear Regulatory Commission: We were given numbers, very low numbers of people who were on the site, and we knew that that wasn’t sufficient to do what needed to be done at that time.

NARRATOR: That day, frustrated at the lack of information the prime minister was giving them, the Americans decided to fly a surveillance drone over the plant. The data they got was disturbing.

A third hydrogen explosion had exposed pools of discarded radioactive fuel to the atmosphere. These spent fuel rods were still highly radioactive. If the pools boiled dry, they could catch fire, and the contamination could be even worse than from a reactor meltdown.

CHUCK CASTO: We had some pretty clear indication that there was fuel damage occurring in the spent fuel pools from lack of water. And as they were worried about Japanese citizens, we were worried about American citizens. And we thought, to put all this to rest, put water in there.

9:40 AM 
Day 7

NARRATOR:The Japanese prime minister ordered a desperate tactic, dumping water on the spent fuel pools from the air. The first crew to take off knew that Soviet pilots who’d done this during the Chernobyl nuclear accident had subsequently died of cancer.

1st Lt. YOSHIYUKI YAMAOKA, Helicopter Pilot: [through interpreter] That morning, before I started the engine, I called my wife. She said, “If someone has to do it, then go and do your best. I am praying for you.” So she was supportive. She was crying at the time. I almost cried, as well.

NARRATOR: An earlier reconnaissance mission had been abandoned because of high levels of radiation over the reactors. Tungsten plates were now bolted to the helicopter to protect the pilots from gamma rays. The crew knew that they had to drop the water on the move from 300 feet. If they went higher, they’d miss. If they went lower, they could receive dangerous doses of radiation.

1st Lt. YOSHIYUKI YAMAOKA: [through interpreter] At the time, it felt like, “This is it. This is finally it.” Like a tingle down the spine.

NARRATOR: Their target was beneath them.

1st Lt. YOSHIYUKI YAMAOKA: [through interpreter] I will never forget what I saw— the bones, the skeleton of the building, the walls were strewn everywhere. Incredible.

NARRATOR: The world watched the mission live via a camera placed 20 miles from the plant.

1st Lt. YOSHIYUKI YAMAOKA: [through interpreter] The wind was bending the water, so we sprayed it like this. We could see the steam, so I knew it had gone in. “We did it. We did it. We did it for everyone.” That’s how I felt.

NARRATOR: But on their second mission, they missed. Other helicopters followed, but the wind was too strong for accurate aiming.

The American nuclear team was monitoring the operation.

CHUCK CASTO: We were taking radiation measurements ourselves to see, after the drop, did the radiation level go down. And it didn’t.

NARRATOR: The United States government began to draw up plans to evacuate 90,000 of its citizens from Japan. For now, they advised all Americans to stay at least 50 miles from the plant. The Japanese evacuation zone remained at 12 miles.

U.S. surveillance now suggested that there were flakes of deadly radioactive fuel scattered around the reactors. This meant that anyone who approached the plant would be risking their lives.

11:00 PM
 Day 8

NARRATOR: Despite the danger, the Japanese government ordered a team of Tokyo firefighters to get water into the fuel pools by any means. The men had no experience of working in radioactive conditions.

Capt. TOYOHIKO TOMIOKA, Tokyo Fire Dept.: [through interpreter] All of our troops gathered. First, we chose all the over-40s. These were the guys who weren’t going to be having any more children.

Capt. OSAMI KAMANAKA, Tokyo Fire Dept.: [through interpreter] I didn’t speak to my family. I’ve taught them that at any moment, I might go into these situations.

NARRATOR: One of the firefighters went ahead to plot a route. But the radiation he was exposed to meant he couldn’t accompany his men on their mission.

Capt. TOYOHIKO TOMIOKA: [through interpreter] I was worried about the radiation and the mental welfare of my team. But I had to leave it to them. I waited and prayed.

NARRATOR: The plan was for the firefighters to park a truck by the sea to suck up water, then lay 800 yard of hose and leave it spraying into the fuel pool.

OFFICER: [subtitles] Does everyone have their lights ready?

NARRATOR: Unique footage filmed that night from the front line of the nuclear disaster shows the firefighters preparing to approach the reactors.

OFFICER: [subtitles] The truck along the seawall will be the one that heads towards the ocean. OK, good luck!

NARRATOR: They gave themselves 60 minutes to complete the mission. Any longer would expose them to excessive radiation.

Capt. OSAMI KAMANAKA: [through interpreter] When we arrived at Fukushima Dai-ichi, it was so quiet. No wind, an eerie silence. The first thing we saw was tsunami debris. The roads were violently twisted. I was worried we wouldn’t be able to complete the mission in one hour.

FIREFIGHTER: [subtitles] I’m getting 0.4 millisieverts.

FIREFIGHTER: [subtitles] OK, 0.4 millisieverts. No problem.

NARRATOR: A radiation-monitoring vehicle set off in front of the firefighters.

FIREFIGHTER: [subtitles] OK, we are moving. 0.4 millisieverts.

NARRATOR: Within minutes, the route was blocked by tsunami debris. The firefighters now had to lay the hose by hand, taking radiation readings as they went.

FIRE DEPT. VIDEO: [subtitles]

— Move from the middle!

— Watch the manhole!

— Is the manhole on the left?

— Yes, the left!

NARRATOR: The alarms on the dosimeters signaled a dangerous increase in radiation.

FIRE DEPT. VIDEO: [subtitles]

— Stop! Almost there!

— The hoses are there!

— Keep to the right!

— No, keep to the left!

— What are you reading?

— I’m getting 70 millisieverts.

— I’m getting 100 millisieverts here!

— 100 millisieverts!

— Everyone not working take cover inside the truck!

— Take a step back! Pull back!

— OK, get away from the building as soon as you can.

NARRATOR: After an hour on site, the hoses were finally connected.

Capt. OSAMI KAMANAKA: [through interpreter] I was told on the radio that the water was spraying, so I started to think we had completed our mission. Then I just wanted to get out of there. We ran to the minibus and left.

NARRATOR: As the firefighters withdrew, radiation levels at the plant began to fall. The men started back for Tokyo. Some had still not told their families what they’d been doing.

Capt. OSAMI KAMANAKA: [through interpreter] When I got home, I was told off. My wife said, “So where have you been? A phone call would have been nice.”

NARRATOR: With radiation levels lower, TEPCO seized their chance. The hundreds of workers who’d been on standby headed into the plant. Their mission was to lay miles of pipes that would channel a constant flow of water into the reactor cores. They had to work fast in case radiation levels spiked again.

“YANAI”: [through interpreter] At the time, in March, we didn’t wear dosimeters. TEPCO didn’t tell us directly where radiation levels were highest.

NARRATOR: TEPCO now says most of their dosimeters were washed away in the tsunami, but that they ensured each group of workers had one.

“YANAI”: [through interpreter] It was an emergency operation and we were in a hurry. No one complained. We all understood. Even if it broke the rules, we kept quiet about it.

NARRATOR: When the pipes were laid, a steady flow of water at last started to cool the reactor cores. After days in fear of dying, the workers in the control center began to feel hope.

“MURAKAMI”: [through interpreter] People around me, their expressions grew brighter. Angry voices fell silent. The bosses calmed down.

NARRATOR: Weeks of difficult and often perilous work lay ahead, but the most dangerous phase of the crisis was over.

Day 9

NAOTO KAN, Prime Minister, 2010-11: [subtitles] Until then, we were pushed and pushed by an invisible enemy. Finally, the system was in order. The turnaround began.

NARRATOR: The prime minister was later forced to resign, accused by his critics of mishandling the crisis.

TEPCO faces having to pay tens of billions of dollars in damages. The company is on the verge of bankruptcy.

The workers who battled to save the plant face an uncertain future. None of them have died from their exposure to radiation, but more than a hundred received doses which increase their risk of developing cancer in the future.

NAOTO KAN: [subtitles] After the Second World War, people in Japan no longer died for their country. In this case, escape was not an option. Fighting was the only way. That it did not get any worse was God’s will. That first week, we walked a razor-thin line.

NARRATOR: The radiation released by the Fukushima meltdowns contaminated hundreds of square miles of northeastern Japan. More than 100,000 people fled the fallout.

Norio Kimura moved to the mountains of Hakuba. Only here, on the other side of the country, did he feel his surviving daughter was safe from radiation. In the weeks after the tsunami, the bodies of his wife and father had been recovered. But his youngest daughter, Yuna, was still missing.

Four months after the disaster, Norio is travelling back to Fukushima. An exclusion zone is still in force for 12 miles around the plant. Animals abandoned by their owners have starved to death. Others roam wild. Some of these districts are contaminated so badly that they will be uninhabitable for decades.

Just two miles from the nuclear power plant, the evacuees from Norio’s village are holding a ceremony for those who died in the tsunami. For Norio, it’s a chance to say farewell to the family he had to leave behind.

NORIO KIMURA: [through interpreter] It has been four months since you suddenly disappeared. I have been wondering why this happened. One day, we will return here to live, looking at the sea that took you from us. We do not know when this will be, but we will definitely return. On behalf of the bereaved, Norio Kimura.


Download a PDF file of the complete transcript of Inside Japan’s Nuclear Meltdown (Parts I and II) here:

Inside Japan’s Nuclear Meltdown