The Tohoku earthquake and tsunamis that devastated eastern Japan back in March is the kind of disaster that will take a full generation to recover from. At the time of this writing, the casualties include some 30,000 people dead, injured or missing, and there is extensive damage to industrial facilities, transport facilities, telecommunications and to nearly 500 cultural monuments across the country. The total bill for all this looks like it will top $300 billion. Maybe one tenth of that is insured.
Just one part of this is the ongoing nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi power plant, which sustained heavy damage to its reactors during the quake. Since then, the company that runs the plant admits that it thinks three of its reactors have melted down, and the government has established a 20 km no-go zone around the plant. So far, the effort to stabilize the leaking reactors has been undertaken by an incredibly brave group of workers who are not only enduring hellish conditions within the plant that include potentially fatal radiation exposure.
This has prompted the formation of the Skilled Veterans Corps, an all-volunteer group of retired engineers and other professionals, all over the age of 60, whose aim is to take point on the effort to stabilize the Fukushima reactors. The idea is that cancer from Fukushima will take 15 or 20 years to surface, so why not let people who probably have less time than that to live take all the risk?