Among those following efforts to repair earthquake- and tsunami-damaged nuclear power plants in Japan is Brian Galligher, who was in Japan March 11 when the quake and tsunami hit.

Among those following efforts to repair earthquake- and tsunami-damaged nuclear power plants in Japan is Brian Galligher, who was in Japan March 11 when the quake and tsunami hit.

Galligher, the director of the Delaware County Emergency Management System, also is a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy reserves. He has been a member of U.S. Forces Japan Detachment 105, based in Akron, for about two years. He visits Japan at least once a year to assist U.S. forces in Japan with information coordination. He was on his fifth trip to Japan when the earthquake and tsunami struck, extending his stay by two weeks. He returned home March 30.

Galligher stayed at Yokota U.S. Air Force base, and was about 200 kilometers from the main damage area.

After the quake hit, he briefed others on the state of the unstable Fukushima 1 nuclear power plant, which has six reactors.

Galligher was with the radiological department at the Ohio Emergency Management Agency for four and a half years, working with commercial nuclear power plants.

Galligher said he was concerned about what would happen if the power plant's containment measures were affected by the earthquake.

The worst case scenarios he researched kept playing out. On March 12, hydrogen explosions occurred in power plant one's first of six reactors. On March 15, explosions rocked reactors three and four.

Since then, efforts in Japan have centered on keeping enough water flowing to Fukushima's reactors.

Though the plant is in a somewhat stable condition, the tsunami considerably weakened the power plant, Galligher said.

If another earthquake or tsunami were to hit, it would cause significant issues. "(Fukushima) may have a lot harder time surviving the earthquake," Galligher said.

On the day the quake hit, "I've never felt anything like that. It was pretty intense," Galligher said. He compared the feeling of the earthquake, which lasted about two minutes, to an amusement park ride. "You're trying to get out and the ground's shaking underneath you."

Although the building he was in was undamaged, Galligher said "it shook pretty good." He and others still evacuated the premises, going outside to wait.

Galligher communicated to his wife and two daughters by e-mail. His wife was worried, he said, but she earlier grew accustomed to his previous long deployments during his active duty from 1992 to 1998.

Galligher initially worked close to 20 hours days for his first two days, gradually scaling back to 14- or 15-hour days. He described the first couple of days as an adrenaline rush.

"It flew by because you were trying to do so much," Galligher said.

Galligher initially manned the emergency management desk within his unit and examined chemical facilities along the coast for possible damage.

Then he started focusing on Fukushima 1, examining worst case scenarios.

"That's really where I helped the most," Galligher said.