Must-listen radio: "Nuclear Power After Fukushima," documentary from BURN: An Energy Journal

Veteran radio journalist and master storyteller Alex Chadwick (who's also a personal friend—he's taught me so much about journalism over the years) hosts a must-listen radio documentary premiering this weekend on public radio stations throughout the US.

BURN: An Energy Journal is a four-hour, four-part broadcast and digital documentary series exploring "the most pressing energy issues of our times."

Part One of the series, titled "Particles: Nuclear Power After Fukushima," coincides with March 11, the first anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. I've listened in entirety, and followed along as the BURN team researched and produced over the past few months, and I can tell you this is truly powerful work. The show also includes PBS Newshour reporter Miles O'Brien, reporting from inside the Fukushima exclusion zone on his recent trip there.

Carve out some time and listen to it on-air, or listen online at this link.

Snip from description:

Included in the riveting premiere episode is an exclusive, first-time-ever interview with an American who was on-site at the Daiichi nuclear plant when the earthquake and tsunami struck. Carl Pillitteri, a maintenance supervisor and one of 40 Americans in Fukushima on that fateful day, describes his terrifying ordeal as he desperately attempted to lead his men to safety through the enormous, shuddering turbine buildings in total darkness.

Below, a video excerpt from Alex's interview with Pillitteri.

More about the radio series follows.

For BURN: An Energy Journal, Chadwick, a beloved public radio correspondent with 30 years of broadcast experience whose storytelling abilities and integrity have been compared to Charles Kuralt's, finds intimate, human-scale stories to explain and explore the very serious energy challenges that face communities across this country and around the world. He interviews an intriguing array of scientists and engineers, policy makers and citizen activists, research visionaries and maverick inventors, concerned parents and committed young people. These personal stories illuminate how and why we face an energy crisis, the dilemma of the continuing demand for energy, the realities and consequences of a mostly carbon-based industry and infrastructure, and some possible alternatives to what looks increasingly to be an ever-more-challenging energy and climate future in the coming decades.

(…) In Part One, "Particles: Nuclear Power After Fukushima," which is airing on the first anniversary of the disaster this coming Sunday, March 11, Chadwick examines the future of nuclear power after the disaster and asks the essential question: "What have we learned from Japan . . . and now what?" In addition to the Carl Pillitteri story and others, the host presents recordings of telephone and other conversations from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Emergency Operations Center in the early days of the disaster, released at the request of BURN. Chadwick also profiles Greg Hardy, a Los Angeles-based engineer who has spent much of his career examining the vulnerability of nuclear plants to earthquakes. Hardy says he's comfortable living between two nuclear facilities along California's coast, even after Fukushima. But Hardy's wife is skeptical. The show travels to Japan, where PBS Newshour reporter Miles O'Brien reports from inside the exclusion zone. The series also visits Germany, where the government plans to shut down its nuclear reactors by 2022.

BURN: An Energy Journal's three other one-hour specials include:

Hunting for Oil | Risks and Rewards – An Earth Day special that coincides with the two-year anniversary of the April 20 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the worst in U.S. History. What became of all that oil? And what's the future of offshore drilling? What are our options?

Energy Efficiency | Taking It to the Streets – A one-hour special for the Fall, 2012, dedicated to the promise of energy efficiency. Energy Secretary Steven Chu says "Energy efficiency isn't just low hanging fruit; it's fruit laying on the ground." Beyond petroleum, coal, nuclear and alternative energy, many believe efficiency is the "fifth fuel, "a huge, untapped resource.

An Energized Presidency – The culminating hour of BURN will be an Election Special for broadcast in October, 2012. Should we have a comprehensive national energy policy rather than a patchwork of laws and regulations? BURN will explore our energy policies and how they are being defined by the political parties and 2012 presidential candidates.

BURN: An Energy Journal is produced by SoundVision Productions in partnership with APM's Marketplace and The Story, PBS NewsHour, and with a grant from the National Science Foundation. The BURN radio specials are distributed by American Public Media. Part one of the series airs on 250 stations throughout the US.