When Japan’s Fukushima power plant disaster happened, Charles Casto – a Nuclear Regulatory Commission engineer – went to help. It was a massive task. The 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that struck nearly two years ago caused the nuclear facility to flood. Power was knocked out, cooling systems failed, and there were several partial meltdowns. Major radiation concerns persist in the region.

Casto stayed for almost a year, using his three decades of experience to assess what went wrong, and what the Japanese did right.

Casto remembers seeing the pressure nuclear plant officials were under at the time. Everyone wanted answers – international media, governments, and the nuclear industry. And of course, the Japanese themselves. They were very, very scared.

Meanwhile, inside the plant – in the midst of a huge disaster – Casto says he picked up a valuable lesson as a leader during a crisis. Because, as broken as things were, he could see systems working, and problems being solved. Slowly, but it was happening. Here, he talks about what Fukushima taught him.