Published on
the Associated Press

Scene of Striking Devastation Inside Japan Reactor


The crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant's upper part of the No.3 reactor building is seen from a bus window in Fukushima prefecture, November 12, 2011. Conditions at Japan's wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant, devastated by a tsunami in March, were slowly improving to the point where a "cold shutdown" would be possible as planned, officials said on Saturday during a tour of the facility. The nuclear reactor buildings were still surrounded by crumpled trucks, twisted metal fences, and large, dented water tanks. Smaller office buildings around the reactors were left as they were abandoned on March 11, when the tsunami hit. REUTERS/Kyodo

Media allowed into Japan's tsunami-damaged nuclear power plant for the first time on Saturday saw a striking scene of devastation: twisted and overturned trucks, crumbling reactor buildings and piles of rubble virtually untouched since the wave struck more than eight months ago.

Representatives of the Japanese and international media, including The Associated Press, were allowed into the plant with the government's chief official in charge of the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. The tour was intended to demonstrate how much the situation at the plant has stabilized since the March 11 tsunami, though reporters had to wear full-body protective gear and submit to radiation scans afterward.

Mangled trucks, flipped over by the wave, remain along the roads inside the complex. Piles of rubble stand where the walls of the plant's reactor structures crumbled, and large pools of water still cover parts of the sprawling campus.
Advertisement: Story continues below

Officials said the situation at the plant, which suffered meltdowns and explosions after it was deluged by the tsunami, has improved enough to allow the visit.

For weeks after the tsunami, the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, about 225km northeast of Tokyo, spewed large amounts of radioactive materials onto the surrounding countryside, much of which remains off-limits.

The media, including an AP photographer and APTN producer, were allowed to view the grounds of the seaside facility and the outside of several of the damaged reactor units before being taken into the emergency operations centre. Environment Minister Goshi Hosono, who heads the government's nuclear response efforts, addressed workers inside the center.

Japan's government and the utility that runs the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company, say radiation leaks are far less of a danger than in the early days of the crisis. They say work is on track toward achieving a "cold shutdown" - in which the temperatures of the reactors are cool and under control.

But the government has predicted that it will take another 30 years at least to safely remove the nuclear fuel and decommission the plant. It could also be decades before tens of thousands of residents forced to flee the 20km exclusion zone around the plant will be able to return. Some experts say even that estimate is optimistic.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do.

Share This Article

More in: