Fukushima: First photojournalist inside plant captures daily life of cleanup workers

25-year old Kazuma Obara (Twitter), a native of Japan's tsunami-hit Iwate prefecture, is the first photojournalist to enter the Fukushima Daiichi plant and photograph what conditions are like for the cleanup workers.

His photo-essay for the Guardian is here.

"I have to confess I was scared when I saw the number 1 and number 2 reactors with my own eyes," he writes.

I recently traveled to the area surrounding this plant, working on a PBS NewsHour report with PBS science correspondent Miles O'Brien. During our trip, we traveled with Safecast.org on a radiation level data gathering expedition that went as close as 24 km from the plant. The radiation levels Mr. Obara describes witnessing in and around the plant itself are in line with what we have heard from other sources, and they are extraordinarily high.

(thanks, Jason Handby)


  1. Within 6 hours in the plant, he was exposed to 60 microsievert – an average of 10 microsievert per hour. (see comment on the center right picture of the lower line) That’s a huge difference to the horror stories of the usual reporting.

    On the other hand, it is stunning to read that worker’s are not told what the point of what they are doing is and suggestions for improvement are not being heard. While this is unfortunately not too unusual in and of itself, it is just horrible judgement in this situation.

  2. tp1024: they want to keep people in the dark so that they can control the information. If nobody knows why or what they are doing, and have not even a clue what other people are doing, nobody will be able to connect the dots.

    And they’ve achieved their goal. There is basically no public outcry here. Nobody seems interested in finding out the gravity of the situation, and nobody seems interested in pushing the government to be proactive instead of constantly CYA reactive.

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