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Arthur Caplan: The Extraordinary Bravery of the Fukushima 50 Must Be Repaid
Bioethics | March 23, 2011

Arthur Caplan: The Extraordinary Bravery of the Fukushima 50 Must Be Repaid

While most people have been evacuated from the surrounding areas of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, there are those brave few that stay behind. These fearless workers, dubbed “the Fukushima 50”, are risking their lives — by facing possible explosions, fires, and extended periods of radiation — to prevent a total meltdown that would render the surrounding hundred miles uninhabitable for decades. In a recent article for MSNBC, Lavin speaker and bioethics expert Arthur Caplan explains why workers in situations like these, where the few are essentially sacrificing themselves for the many, must be properly supported. Caplan argues that there must be provisions in place for these rare and extreme calls of duty, saying that, “those who issue the orders have another duty if they request sacrifice from a few to help the many — to be prepared for the consequences.”

Take the selfless emergency workers who were injured or faced health complications during 9/11, Caplan recalls the shocking lack of support that they received in the years following: “years later, they developed serious physical ailments due to their bravery. Hundreds submitted claims to the city and other agencies, but for years and years got no response.” Just as we must be prepared for natural disasters or deliberate attacks, we must be prepared to support those who risk their lives to save others. Caplan calls for, “an international agreement that heroes who stay at their posts during calamities, who walk into collapsing buildings or stay on to staunch the risk of a melting nuclear reactor, can expect health care, compensation and assistance.” Perhaps, amid the devastation of the Japanese disaster, we can learn how to not only prevent disasters — but how to support those who work tirelessly, long after the news cameras have gone.


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