'This Week' Transcript: Disaster in the Pacific


Yes, very nervous, she told us, not sure quite what to do. And when I asked what she is doing, she said she's following the instructions given to her on the television not to leave the home, to seal the windows. She said she's got them shut tight. But the reason she left her home this time was simply because she was running out of food, running out of drinks.

But I've got to tell you, there was at least one other parent who said, "I'm not worried about the nuclear reactors. I don't even have television or electricity right now. I'm more worried about being at home in the dark with my children at night."

Christiane, back to you.


AMANPOUR: David Muir, up as far as he could get towards the nuclear power plant. And when we come back, we are going to have a report about the nuclear industry. We're going to have a report about the dangers there. We're going to have an interesting panel to talk about what might be next. And later, Jake Tapper will take us to Washington with all the news there, including President Obama's budget battle on Capitol Hill, after a break.


AMANPOUR: So, first, an earthquake, then a tsunami, and then a nuclear disaster. This country is in a race to really save those reactors from any further damage than has already been created.

ABC's Bob Woodruff takes a look inside what the government is trying to do.


WOODRUFF (voice-over): Friday's devastating earthquake, one of the most powerful ever recorded, was centered off the coast of Japan, just about 80 miles from two nuclear power plants. The horrific tsunami that soon followed slammed into both facilities. Even as the nation struggled to comprehend the vast tragedy around them, another nightmare had already begun.

KAKU: First of all, the backup systems failed. The pumps, the electricity all gone because of the earthquake and the tsunami. This was not supposed to happen.

WOODRUFF: Here's why that mattered. At the core of a nuclear power plant are uranium rods that become super hot. And that heat drives turbines to create electricity. But the uranium core must be kept underwater at all times to keep it from getting too hot. That's exactly what was beginning to happen here. And plant workers tried everything they could, the experts were getting nervous.

KAKU: They are trying to end this crisis. It's a question of capability. Can they?

WOODRUFF: As temperature and pressure rose in the Fukushima Daiichi reactor, officials struggled in a fight against time to get the pumps fully working. Finally, on Saturday, an explosion ripped away the building housing the reactor.

KAKU: One by one, every single layer of safety is failing right before their eyes. And so as a last-ditch measure, they're reaching for the ultimate solution, and that is inject seawater right into the reactor core, anything to stabilize the core to prevent it from going up.

WOODRUFF: As tensions continued to rise, an evacuation plan was quickly widened to include 200,000 people around the Daiichi plant and the nearby Fukushima Daini plant, which is deteriorating, as well.

KAKU: On Friday, Japan had never declared a nuclear emergency. By Friday afternoon, they had declared five. They had five reactors where they had lost control of the cooling systems. All five were potential meltdowns.

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