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, PBS.org.
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.