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tv   60 Minutes on CNBC  CNBC  September 4, 2012 9:00pm-10:00pm EDT

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(sfx: loud thud sound) what a strange place. geico®. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance. [ticking] >> well, six months of this would be a step in the right direction. >> well, a step in the right direction-- >> not another week of runaround. >> the average for each of the claims that you paid out is $5,000. >> no more bp. blame me. don't blame bp anymore. >> ken feinberg is the go-to guy for thankless jobs, america's arbiter of human suffering. >> why don't you open up the purse strings? >> his assignment deciding who should be paid for damages from the gulf oil spill, was one of his toughest yet. they really go after you. >> they do, but it goes with the territory. >> it may be the greatest rescue operation since noah's ark. a billion people watched
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as 33 chilean miners trapped for 69 days half a mile underground stepped from darkness into light. [cheers and applause] >> if ever there was a story with a happy ending, this was it. [men chanting] but when we visited the miners several months after their rescue, we found many were struggling. for example, alex vega was building a wall around his house, though he couldn't explain why. >> on march 11, 2011, japan was hit by a tsunami that rewrote history. it was triggered by a 9.0 earthquake that helped set off the biggest nuclear emergency since chernobyl. >> this is unprecedented, you know, uncharted territory, that the consequences could be greater than we expect. >> welcome to 60 minutes on cnbc. i'm morley safer. in this edition,
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we look at the effect of three disasters: the massive 2010 gulf oil spill, the chilean mine collapse that trapped 33 miners underground for weeks, and, in 2011, the massive earthquake in japan followed by a devastating tsunami. we begin with the bp oil spill and kenneth feinberg, the lawyer who is the go-to guy for thankless jobs, america's arbiter of human suffering. we first met him when he was adjudicating the fund for the almost 3,000 victims of 9/11. in the fall of 2010, we caught up with him again. he now has what in sheer numbers may be the biggest headache of all: compensating the thousands of angry people affected by the spill. feinberg held town meetings for weeks in the gulf states, where, armed only with his reputation and a $20 billion pot of money, he called for
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patience and accepted all blame. >> i don't care what bp did before. no more bp. blame me. don't blame bp anymore. >> feinberg may be perceived by most americans as the fairest in the land-- if not for looks, then surely for his judgment. but to the shrimpers, oystermen, boat captains, restaurant and hotel owners and their employees, all of whose lives and livelihoods have been completely upended, he is seen as a penny-pinching scrooge when they wanted beneficent santa claus. >> we had katrina. we had a down economy. now we got the spill. you can't tell me one person that has not suffered. why don't you open up the purse strings? >> here's my answer. [applause] don't trust my words. my words--you've heard a lot of talk. let's just see, over the next few weeks and months,
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have i delivered on my promise to help people in mississippi? >> ever since the deepwater horizon blew, it was clear that this was a disaster in the making. the fishing industry came to a stop. tourism was wrecked. the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands, anyone who was dependent on these waters, were in deep jeopardy. under pressure from the federal government, bp agreed to create a victims compensation fund. both bp and the white house wanted one man, ken feinberg, to administer it. >> i felt that if asked, i should step up and try and help as best i can. >> what is it about ken feinberg that makes him the nation's arbiter of impossible decisions? >> i think there's something that experience brings to the table in terms of getting these problems solved. good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. >> this lawyer's experience in mediation, in placing monetary value on human
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suffering, is unmatched. president obama made him his pay czar, where he cut the salaries of executives of companies that received government bailouts. but it was his role as special master of the 9/11 victims compensation fund that was his greatest challenge and likely his lasting legacy. >> 9/11 was a horrific experience, because you were dealing with traumatic death, where people said good-bye to loved ones that morning and never saw them again. incinerated. no body to bury. this is different, but it's very, very emotional, bp, very emotional. it's not death. it's more, "what does the future hold in terms of my ability to earn a living?" >> he has $20 billion of bp's money to dole out as he sees fit. >> just bring it on, baby. >> the idea behind the fund is similar to 9/11: persuade people to accept
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payment for their losses up front... >> uh-oh. >> instead of engaging in long and costly and uncertain lawsuits against bp. >> it's a free country. if you want to come into the fund with all the benefits of the fund, come on in. you're welcome. we'll give you a fair shake. we'll process your claim. we'll pay what you're due. if you don't like what we're paying you, if you think we're nickel-and-diming you, if you think we're not being fair, opt out and go the other route. now, in 9/11, 97% of all eligible claimants entered the fund. only 94 people out of 3,000 decided to litigate. >> but in the gulf, he must evaluate not human life but something much more vague: economic loss, everything from the price of shrimp that won't be caught to hotel rooms that won't be occupied. >> i've got a retail business been destroyed. >> i have a mortgage company,
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and my territory is the gulf coast. >> and my phone's not ringing at all now, and i'm usually fishing five to six days a week. >> and i catch oysters. >> oysters. >> and i ain't worked since april. >> even though most fishing grounds have reopened, the market remains wary of gulf seafood and its beaches. feinberg looks and listens. an endlessly moving target, he takes his hits at meeting after meeting, makes his pitch, and moves on. >> where did i start yesterday? from new orleans, right? up to alabama, yeah. >> we joined him at the crack of dawn, where he was calmly preparing for another day of personal abuse. >> with all due respect, 5,000 people have got checks. that's not enough. >> 5,000 out of 20,000 claims sucks. that's not very good. >> it's been ten days now. can we take whoever programmed this, take them down in the swamp, drop them off for ten days, and let them wait on us to go pick them up
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to see how it feels to keep waiting? >> i don't think you should keep waiting. i told you you wouldn't have to keep waiting. i can't speak-- >> it's a contradiction of your word, sir. >> i know. there may be-- it won't be the first time. i'm trying. >> feinberg acknowledges he's dealing with a weary and frustrated population who may distrust a hotshot lawyer with a boston accent. >> what these fishermen and others want to see are checks and compensation, not promises from somebody from boston. and that is an obstacle that i try to overcome in part by coming down here and meeting with these people. >> this is, what, your 14th or 15th trip down here? >> i think so. >> do you feel that the tide is somehow turning in your favor, that people say, "okay, let's give him a chance?" >> not yet. >> not yet? >> not yet. >> well, six months of this would be a step in the right direction. >> well, a step in the right direction-- >> not another week of
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runaround. >> the average for each of the claims that you paid out is $5,000. and that's for six months, and that, sir, is nothing to be bragged about. >> they really go after you. >> they do, but it goes with the territory. i mean, you go in there expecting that you're going to receive that criticism. and woe be unto you if you hide. that is a mistake. you cannot hide. >> feinberg admits the program had a rocky start, which only added to the mistrust. these fishermen agree. >> what did you make of that meeting? >> i think he sounds sincere, but there's a lot of niches in the system that he needs to get right. and he was supposed to be so generous with the payments. >> do you believe what he's telling you? >> absolutely not. i think he's just another attorney talking his talk. >> but you don't think his record in dealing with 9/11 was an honest job? >> to be honest with you, i could care less about 9/11. i care about this oil spill, and i could care less about anybody else's claims. i care about my claim. >> but, see, it's our responsibility to do what we did here today, okay?
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put him up against the wall, make him do what's right. >> coming up, kenneth feinberg on his most powerful weapon. >> show me the money. show me the money. >> that's ahead when 60 minutes on cnbc returns. all energy development comes with some risk,
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>> kenneth feinberg runs bp's $20 billion compensation
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fund for victims of the gulf oil spill from his office. his private life is private. but in the role of arbiter, he is remarkably accessible. >> nice to meet you. >> he has a large army of people located at different centers in the gulf to sort through and process tens of thousands of claims. he devised a two-step claims process. first a six-month emergency payment with no strings attached. >> these emergency payments are designed to help claimants meet their immediate financial needs. no release required, no obligation. >> and then after that comes the so-called final payments? >> that's right. that's more controversial, because with the final payment will come the requirement that the claimant release bp from any suit, any lawsuit. >> and that is a tough call. though scientific studies are
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under way, no one can predict the full effects of the deepwater horizon spill. how can these fishermen calculate what future losses they may suffer? >> we won't know what to file for until we find out what the scientists say is really happening out there. >> what i'll try and do is work with you to make sure that the payment i'm giving you will minimize the risk that you're worried about. >> further complicating matters is a local business culture that's not renowned for keeping records. it's mainly cash on the line. >> we still do business as we did 40 years ago. do a job, maybe a $20,000 or $30,000 job, with just a handshake, not even a piece of paper. but in this town, handshakes still mean anything. am i right? >> yeah. >> a handshake is still important, and we don't want to be deprived of that. and i don't know how you gonna work with us on that. but a lot of it was cash money.
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a lot of it was handshakes. >> i can't pay money on a handshake. it can't be done. i don't--now... i don't care about documentation. do you have somebody who will come in and say, "here's a letter. i will vouch for this man. i know him. and we had a handshake deal for x. signed, friend." something like that, other than "you see this? pay me." >> with $20 billion available, it's not surprising that there may be a certain degree of hanky-panky going on. >> do you think there is much fraud out there? >> let me put it to you this way: after the oil spill, i ain't never seen so many commercial fishermen in my life. there are so many people in line at meetings. i never seen these people, and i'm behind them in line. and i ask some of the other fishermen, "you seen that guy before?" "no, i never seen that guy before."
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no, it was comical. >> by october 2010, feinberg paid out almost $1 billion in emergency claims. but the real test will come with the lump sum payments and whether people take the money or sue bp. >> i don't want to get tied up in litigation for 5 years, 10 years, 15 years down the line. who knows how long it'll take. >> the thing is, mr. safer, none of us are trying to get rich off this deal. >> that's right. >> we just want to get back to normal, get our lives back, get past what damage you did, let us go on with our lives. >> feinberg's life for a good part of the last decade has been steeped in other people's misfortune. his reputation remains unsullied. but this tragedy, so large, so complicated, could be a man's undoing. >> oh, i don't worry about that. ted williams never batted .1000. i mean, my credibility is only as good as the latest program that i'm administering. and you can't do these projects
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worried about what people are going to think. >> but is your most powerful weapon your reputation? >> definitely not. my most powerful weapon are the checks going out. that's all that matters here. >> show me the money. >> show me the money. show me the money. >> and he did. by january of 2012, kenneth feinberg had paid out nearly $6 billion to over 200,000 claimants. but not everyone wanted to make a deal. tens of thousands of others have decided to sue bp. and coming up, trapped chilean miners consider desperate measures. >> [speaking spanish] >> male translator: i had to think about which miner was gonna collapse first. and then i started thinking about how i was gonna eat him. >> the 33 when 60 minutes on cnbc returns. my volt is the best vehicle i've ever driven.
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>> it may have been the greatest rescue operation since noah's ark. in october of 2010, the world watched 33 chilean miners become instant heroes as they stepped into the daylight for the first time in nearly ten weeks. the men had been trapped half a mile underground when their mine in northern chile collapsed. before the rescue, they'd made a pact of silence. but when bob simon visited with them a few months after their rescue, several opened up to him. >> this was the stage for one of the most compelling dramas of our time. there's not the slightest trace of that now,
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not even an empty coke can. this is the entrance to hell on earth. the miners were five hours into their day shift when their world collapsed. workers on the surface said it sounded like a volcano exploding. they were shocked, they said, but not surprised. the san jose mine has one of the worst safety records in the region. the first rescue team didn't get very far. 300 yards from here, the underground road was blocked by a boulder twice the weight of the empire state building. with the 33 still alive, the odds were put at 2%. half a mile underground, victor zamora was repairing the roof of the mine when the force of the collapse plastered him against a wall. he stumbled to the shelter where food was meant to be stored for just such an emergency. there was enough for a couple of picnics. how did you react to that? >> [speaking spanish]
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>> male translator: we were so mad. there was almost nothing there. we couldn't believe that we were supposed to survive with so little. we were treated even worse than animals. it was shocking. >> three days after the collapse, the rescue team started sending probes down. trouble was, they had no idea where the miners were. all they had were sketches, which were outdated and inaccurate. but they kept on drilling day and night. the noise was deafening. the miners would hear the probes come close and then stop. it drove them crazy. but once mechanic alex vega thought he heard salvation. >> male translator: i'd say the probe went by no more than two meters from our shelter. >> you heard the probe go down two meters from where you were? >> yes, it went by real close. >> do you remember what you felt when you realized
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that the probe was not going to come where you were? >> yes. i lost hope. i was desperate. >> and so were the families who pitched tents outside the mine. they called it camp hope, and some never lost it, even though for 16 days, there was no sign of life. what the families didn't know and what has not been reported until now is just how close their men came to doing themselves in. >> i said to a friend, "well, if we're going to continue suffering, it would be better for all of us to go to the shelter, start an engine, and, with the carbon monoxide, just let ourselves go." >> were the only one who suggested that, or were there other miners who felt the same way? >> i think all of us. >> all of you were thinking about committing suicide? >> at that moment, it wasn't really committing suicide. it was to not continue suffering.
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we were gonna die anyway. >> we wanted to get some idea of what it must have been like down there, so we asked writer jonathan franklin, who obtained a backstage pass to the rescue operation, to take us down a nearby mine. it had been run by the same company. >> there's been quite a few mini cave-ins around here. >> we had to scramble over rocks and rubble in pitch-black tunnels to get where we wanted to go: to the part of the mine which most resembled the diabolical world where the men were entombed half a mile underground. now, we all knew that the miners spent 69 days underground. we knew it, but being down here is knowing it, knowing it really. i mean, the idea of 69 days here is terrifying. >> we're only 1/4 of the depth that they were, 1/4. you'd have to go down another 500 meters. and where they were, it was wet
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and humid. >> even under these conditions, the men maintained remarkable discipline. they voted on everything. they stuck to a daily schedule: a general meeting followed by a prayer service, then what they called dinner. franklin, who gained unprecedented access to the miners, has written a book called 33 men. he says the men always divided their food evenly, even when they were down to one teaspoon of tuna every 48 hours. but by day 16, he says, the miners were all starving and realized they'd have to eat the first man who died. >> they told me that they had a pot and a saw ready. >> do you think that the potential candidates knew who they were? >> one of the candidates told me that the guys had been joking, "hey, if you die in your sleep, you know, you're gonna be breakfast, lunch, and dinner." so those last few nights, he said he couldn't sleep. he was too afraid that if he died that his companions would end up eating him. >> mario sepulveda,
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who emerged as the leader of the group early on, says he thought it was only a matter of time. how long do you think it would have been before you had to do it? >> male translator: i would say five or ten days. i don't know. but i was gonna get out of there no matter what. food or no food, i was gonna get out of there. how? i had to think about which miner was gonna collapse first. and then i started thinking about how i was gonna eat him. i promise you, i wasn't embarrassed. i wasn't scared. >> coming up, the high price of survival. >> what's it like just looking at this place now? >> tristeza. >> male translator: sadness. >> mucha tristeza. >> translator: lots of sadness. i'd prefer to be dead. >> that's when 60 minutes on cnbc returns. with the spark cash card from capital one,
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>> a half-mile underground, the 33 chilean miners were starving. they talked about suicide and of eating the first man who died. although rescue efforts had begun, for 16 days, the fate of the men was unknown. then, as bob simon reports, their luck was suddenly about to change. >> they were saved by the drill. on day 17, it came punching through the ceiling. all thoughts of cannibalism and suicide disappeared into the dust. >> when the drill finally broke through, do you remember what you were
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feeling? >> i was so weak, i couldn't even stand. and then all of a sudden, i found myself jumping for joy. it was like celebrating new year's eve or having a newborn child. >> rescuers on the surface heard pounding on the drill. when they pulled it up, they saw paint on it, red paint. then they found a note attached to the bit that said, "we are fine in the refuge, the 33." they sent down a camera, and the world peered into the dark eyes of a stunned survivor. then there they were, 33 haunted men trying to appear cheerful, to wave, to smile for their families. they just couldn't pull it off. some had lost 50 pounds. >> [speaking spanish] >> mario sepulveda played the host in what became a reality show, survivor: underground. he took the viewers around what had become their home-- the casino, the clinic,
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the post office. and that's where conflicts with the rescuers began. psychologists were censoring and tampering with the letters the miners wrote and received. they wanted to keep the messages light and cheerful. the 33 were outraged. but tension turned into joy on day 69, the day of liberation. the fittest men went up first. mario sepulveda was the second to reach the top. he seemed happy to be there. >> [screaming in spanish] [all chanting in spanish] >> victor zamora, the roof repairman, made a movie of it all-- the rescuers landing, getting suited up for the ride, then lift-off and 20 minutes in a magic capsule... [men cheering] the docking, and a love scene. hollywood couldn't have done better.
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[cheering] the 33 were treated to a victory tour. highlights: meetings with america's top celebrities, galas where they just kept on receiving awards, an appearance on the david letterman show. miner edison peña didn't have the slightest idea who letterman was, but he was having a wonderful time. >> ♪ and we can feel like... >> back in copiapo, though, peña was hospitalized for anxiety and depression, and he was not alone. mario sepulveda, that most exuberant of men, was on heavy medication. the oldest miner, mario gomez, found it impossible to sleep. alex vega? he couldn't explain why he was doing it, but he was building a wall around his house. >> whenever i hear a noise, i get scared and look around me. my heart beats faster. i can't go into small spaces. i'm taking five or six pills a day now.
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if i don't take them, i can't sleep, and i wouldn't even be able to sit here. >> all but one of the 33 men, doctors say, have suffered severe psychological problems since the accident. and the miners complain they weren't getting the quality medical care and benefits they needed and were promised. 19 had already lost their disability payments. sebastian piñera is chile's president. >> couple of the miners told me that they feel like they're soldiers. they're heroes during the war, and when the war is over, they're forgotten. >> well, that's part of life. that's a part of human nature. they were heroes. they will always be heroes. >> you know, if any of these miners get really ill, the story could still have an unhappy ending, couldn't it? >> yes, yes.
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and we are worried about that. but each of them, they have to come back to their normal lives, to their families, find a new job. >> that's what the president said to you. what do you say to the president? >> i'm an underground mining mechanic. that's what i do. and i won't be able to do it anymore. >> what do you want to do? >> i've tried to work fixing cars and other kinds of vehicles, but i lose my concentration very quickly. i forget things. right now, i don't know what's going to happen with my future. >> and victor zamora? he walked with us to the mine. it was his first time back since the accident. he told us he feels he still hasn't been rescued. >> before i went in here, i was a happy guy. but now i'm having nightmares. i'm having problems. i'm not the same person. >> what kind of nightmares are you having? >> being trapped, watching my friends around me die, rocks falling. the other me is still in there.
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>> do you miss him? >> i can't have a normal relationship with my family. >> [sobbing] >> i'm--i'm not as affectionate with my child as i was before. it's very difficult. >> what's it like just looking at this place now? >> tristeza. >> sadness. >> mucha tristeza. >> lots of sadness. i'd prefer to be dead. >> even today, not everyone understands what can happen to people after they've been in hell. but the miners know. they say the mine is a vengeful goddess who exacts a price for her copper. sometimes the price is death, sometimes survival. >> more than a year after their dramatic rescue, many of the 33 miners were still struggling with unemployment and psychological problems. only a handful had steady jobs.
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meanwhile, the miners have sold the rights to their story to a hollywood producer who's making a movie about their ordeal. and coming up, japanese nuclear reactors threatened by disaster. >> this is unprecedented, you know, uncharted territory, that the consequences could be greater than we expect. >> that catastrophe when 60 minutes on cnbc returns.
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>> there's a reason we use a japanese word for a catastrophic seismic ocean wave. japan has had more tsunamis than any place on earth. and the 9.0 earthquake and the subsequent tsunami that struck on march 11, 2011, were history-making, leaving nearly 20,000 dead and missing. it also produced a nuclear crisis. within days of the disaster, scott pelley was in japan with a 60 minutes team. he begins his report from the zone surrounding the fukushima daiichi nuclear power plant, where emergency crews were struggling to restore cooling and trying to stabilize pressure inside the reactors. >> the fukushima daiichi crisis is not one nuclear emergency. it is four potentially
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catastrophic events standing side by side. in all, there are six reactor stations. numbers ones through four are in peril. crews risk their lives to get water onto melting uranium fuel. through explosions and blasts of radioactive steam, a few hundred japanese join battle with the most powerful force known to man. one of the americans responding to the emergency is julia nesheiwat. she's a state department official who was already in japan working on nuclear issues. she served in washington as deputy chief of staff to the director of national intelligence. in tokyo, she's been on the fukushima disaster from the start. >> we're providing the full resources of the united states government? everything we've got... >> yes, absolutely. >> we've told them is at their disposal. >> absolutely. >> our best people are on this? >> yes, they are. working nonstop around the clock in each of the operation centers. >> and they are now working side by side with the japanese? >> yes. >> but that wasn't always the case.
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>> not in the beginning, no. >> an american team of top experts arrived shortly after the disaster, but they were largely stuck at the u.s. embassy. the japanese didn't think they needed the help. but the emergency was out of control, and the u.s. gave the japanese an ominous private warning. >> that if, you know, we don't expand the efforts, we'll require heroic work done that could be, you know, quite devastating for the workers. >> what do we mean by that? >> that means they could very well lose their lives. >> an official with the u.s. government told the japanese that "your people are gonna have to die save that plant unless you let us help you." >> yes. >> at one point during the week, the hazard was so great, the japanese took all but about 70 workers out of the plant. their problem is water. the systems that keep the radioactive fuel rods cool failed. the rods are partially melting, releasing radiation. and it's not just the reactors.
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there are also used fuel rods, essentially nuclear waste, stored in pools nearby. they're also losing water, and american experts fear that one of these pools is already dry. nesheiwat told us the danger is multiplied because the reactors are so close together. >> that is a grave concern at this time. if there is an explosion, if there is a meltdown, a fire, it can absolutely affect the neighboring plants. >> what would that mean? >> oh, goodness, i don't want to even think what that could mean. that's just something that we would have to really plan for at the greatest scale, and we're hoping and praying that that's not the case. >> from the beginning, the u.s. said the crisis was more grave than the japanese apparently believed. and so far, the u.s. experts have been right. on march 16th, the american embassy began a voluntary evacuation of u.s. citizens. it wasn't until two days later
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that the japanese acknowledged the threat was greater than they'd thought. the japanese declared a voluntary evacuation zone of 12 miles around the plant. the u.s. says it should be 50 miles. there is great uncertainty. top experts disagree on fundamental questions, such as whether melting fuel rods would cause an explosion or just a fire. answers are critical to planning for a bigger emergency. >> it's just so uncertain. this is unprecedented, you know, uncharted territory, that the consequences could be greater than we expect. >> more than 50 american experts are in japan, including engineers from the nuclear regulatory commission and public health advisers. many are working in three joint emergency operation centers around tokyo. one of their biggest problems is getting a good look at the damaged reactors. surveillance pictures have been poor. >> you're dealing with the smoke. you're dealing with, you know,
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the debris. it's just very difficult to make such an assessment of the situation. i mean, you're trying to really scrutinize the pixels of the picture. >> the u.s. team is using cameras and sensors carried by drones in the air and robots on the ground to get a clearer idea of what's going on. no one knows what will happen at fukushima, but it's important to remember that even without this nuclear crisis, japan has already suffered a catastrophe. >> [screaming] >> coming up... >> what happened to the older man and woman who were holding onto you? >> i don't know. i don't know what happened to them. >> that's ahead when 60 minutes on cnbc returns. i don't spend money on gasoline.
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>> march 11, 2011. this was the moment that altered the course of japanese history. the tsunami inundated about 400 miles of the northern coast. >> [indistinct shouting] >> you can't capture the enormity of it, so we stopped in one small town. matsushima was said to be among the most beautiful places in japan, a famous vacation spot. the name has the same ring to a japanese as big sur or cape cod does to an american. "matsushima" means "pine tree island." the trees are about all that's left. what was the personality of the town? what was this place like? >> oh, everyone is very friendly. >> david chumreonlert is a native of texas who's been teaching english
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in matsushima schools for a couple of years. we met over a canal where tourists came to fish. that's a bridge we're on. the canal is full of houses and cars. this is where the kids from the school came from? >> yeah, they would come from here and around this area. >> nobiru elementary school is around the corner. david chumreonlert was among the teachers and students who were wrapping up the day when the building began to roll on the greatest quake japan has ever seen. >> the teacher was like, "let's go check the classrooms to make sure everyone is okay and start getting everyone to the gym." >> this is the earthquake-reinforced gym, which stands across the playground from the three-story school. >> some guy with a helmet on, he ran in, and he was like, "tsunami's coming." and then the principal was like, "okay, everyone run back to the school." the fifth grade teacher, he was at the front of the group, and he said he saw a wall of water coming, so he's like, "everyone, run back inside." >> it was too late to get out of the gym. >> to get out of the gym. >> inside, there were about
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200 people-- children from 6 to 11, parents who'd come to pick them up. less than 30 minutes after the quake, they were swept up in a surge of seawater and debris. >> it was blasting through the door, and it was like-- when it was hitting the walls, it would make kind of, like, a whirlpool kind of motion. so at that point, it had risen up to the stage level. >> water didn't stop there. >> no, it didn't. >> what happened next? >> i was starting to get, like, sucked out into the middle, and i didn't want that to happen, so i grabbed the wall. and then a grandpa and some lady who was hanging onto him, like, they washed by me, and they managed to grab my shoulder. and so they were hanging onto me, and we were--i could feel, like, getting pulled. >> what happened to the older man and woman who were holding onto you? >> i don't know. i don't know what happened to them. >> what happened then? >> i grabbed the railing, and i somehow found my footing. and i think--i don't know what it was, but i think it was the top of the basketball goal. >> the water was that deep?
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>> yeah. it came all the way up to the second--second-- the balcony. >> this is the goal and the railing behind. there's narrow standing room between the railing and the wall. i saw, like, one of my kids. he was struggling, so i grabbed him. i grabbed his shirt, and i was able to pull him over to the side, and he was able to grab onto the railing. and i helped heave him over. and i saw, like, a big desk with four or five of my kids hanging onto it. and they're saying, you know-- they're shouting, like, "help me. help us. help us." and finally i was able to grab ahold of the desk and pull it closer to me and then was able to grab them one by one, and we were able to get them over. and then there was one more lady, and we got her over too. >> in two hours, night had fallen. you were in the total darkness in the freezing cold with the seawater all around you for four hours, five hours? >> about six hours. >> wondering when the rescuers would come. >> yeah.
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>> and then the aftershocks would come, and everyone would just huddle down together, like, afraid again. >> [speaking japanese] >> [man speaking japanese] >> in a wrecked house nearby, we found a child rescued from the gym. six-year-old sena suzuki in her grandmother's arms. >> came all the way up to here? >> she told us, "the water came up to my neck, up to my face." >> how did you get away? >> [speaking japanese] >> "a teacher grabbed me by the arm and pulled me up out of the water." we don't know if it was david chumreonlert who grabbed her. there's a lot that's unknown. how many survivors would you estimate were up there on the balcony? >> i'm hoping at least over 100. i hope. i hope. i'm not sure, though.
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>> we came back to the gym and were surprised to find those who did not survive lying across the basketball court and up there on the stage. families searched for their loved ones, lifting blankets one by one in a combination of hope and dread. but the fact of the matter is, there is no place to put this many bodies. the morgues are completely full. and, frankly, there aren't enough people to move them. it is a fact in this part of japan that at this moment in time, there are not enough living to take care of the dead. all across northern japan, nearly half a million are homeless, nearly a million have no power, and more than two million are without water. in the coastal city of sendai, a city of a million people-- about the size of detroit-- we saw nearly 3,000 residents patiently waiting for a grocery store to open
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for the first time in days. there are shortages of food, and lines for gasoline stretch half a mile. add to all of this what you might call nuclear refugees. thousands are in shelters because their homes are too close to the fukushima reactors. not only are their homes in danger of being irradiated but every possession they own. yoshihiko igarashi's house is three miles from the plant. his daughter was born there. she turned 20 last week in the shelter. like everyone, they've laid out a few square feet on the floor with no idea how long they'll be here. 1,600 people are in this shelter alone. it's just 20 miles from where the reactor fires are burning. if you believe u.s. experts, that's much too close. >> [speaking japanese] >> igarashi told us he feels that way too. the japanese are, for the moment, balancing between the disaster that has happened
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and the disaster that awaits. the prime minister told his people they will rebuild japan. but all along the northern coast and in the town of pine tree island, there is a powerful sense that for now, time has stopped. >> eight months after the disaster, thousands were living in temporary housing, and there were few signs of rebuilding. the local town leaders in charge of the reconstruction were moving slowly because they were uncertain of the extent and speed of government aid. they were also seeking better ways to protect their communities from future tsunamis. as for the power plant, in february 2012, it was leaking radioactive water less than two months after the japanese prime minister declared it stable. meanwhile, japan was still struggling to protect its food supply from radioactivnt

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