Inside Fukushima: 8 months after disaster, foreign journalists get first look at crippled nuclear plant

The crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant's upper part of the No.3 reactor building is seen from a bus window, November 12, 2011. REUTERS/Kyodo.

On Saturday, Japanese government representatives and TEPCO officials escorted a group of Japanese and foreign journalists inside the badly damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant for the first time since March 11. This was the first time media were allowed in after a tsunami and earthquake eight months ago triggered the world's worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl.

TEPCO and government officials hoped to show the world that the situation inside Fukushima is under control, eight months later. Visiting reporters had to wear protective gear, and undergo radiation screening. They saw crumbling reactor structures, huge piles of rubble, twisted metal fences, dented water tanks, and trucks overturned by the massive tsunami wave. Smaller administrative buildings nearby remain just as they were when office workers fled the oncoming wave, on March 11.

Authorities said they are hoping to reach full cold shutdown, but the reactor at Fukushima is not yet fully under control. It may take decades to safely close this site.

Reports from today's tour: Reuters, Associated Press, and the New York Times, with more here. AP also has a report today on conditions for workers. Related: The Institute of Nuclear Power Operations has released a detailed, minute-by-minute timeline of the events that unfolded at Fukushima Daiichi on March 11. The report was delivered on Nov. 11 to U.S. industry executives, the NRC, and of Congress. A NYT article on the report is here.

VIDEO: Watch Miles O'Brien's PBS NewsHour report inside the Fukushima exclusion zone, about efforts to monitor and share data about radiation levels throughout Japan (I helped shoot and produce). YouTube,

A worker (C) is given a radiation screening as he enters the emergency operation center, November 12. The poster (L) reads "No tobacco and gum on the premises". REUTERS/David Guttenfelder.

A A worker inside the emergency operation center listens to a speech by Japan's Environment and Nuclear Crisis Minister Goshi Hosono (not in picture), November 12, 2011. REUTERS/David Guttenfelder.

Employees of TEPCO work inside the Fukushima Daiichi emergency operation center, November 12, 2011. REUTERS/David Guttenfelder.

A radiation monitor indicates 73.20 microsieverts per hour at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, November 12, 2011. The power plant's No.4 reactor building is seen in the right side of this picture. REUTERS/Kyodo.

The crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant's No.4, No.3, No.2 and No.1 (R-L) reactor buildings are seen from bus windows. REUTERS/Kyodo.

The crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant's No.4 reactor building is seen through bus windows. REUTERS/David Guttenfelder.

Officials from the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) and journalists pass by a newly built sea barricade next to the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, November 12, 2011. REUTERS/David Guttenfelder.

Japanese officials wearing protective suits and masks ride in the back of a bus while a second bus carrying officials and journalists follow as they drive through the contaminated exclusion zone. REUTERS/David Guttenfelder.



      1. I think for most people the problem is keeping track of the decimal place. I’ve caught myself miss counting the zeros a couple of times when going from micro to mili. Even the press have gotten it wrong a couple of times.

  1. Astonishing to see the destructive power of the hydrogen blasts. You could interpret the results several ways: too little foresight or remarkable that the containment vessels survived as much as they did. Either way, of course, the challenge remains enormous, and the effect on the Japanese people is hard to fathom.

  2. I find it a good sign that one can visit Fukushima in the first place. No way was this possible with Chernobyl. What a difference in both scale and action taken. This also takes a bit of the wind out of the secret conspiracy nutter sails.

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