Fukushima: A closer look – People wearing protective suits and masks ride on a bus past the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station in Okuma, Japan, on Saturday, November 12 2012. Journalists got their first ground-level glance around the stricken facility, eying shells of reactor buildings, tons of contaminated water, and workers still scurrying to mitigate damage from a crisis that began eight months ago.
Fukushima: A closer look – The crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station is seen through a bus window in Okuma on Saturday. An epic 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami March 11 wreaked havoc around Japan, killing more than 15,000 people. While many of those died instantly, the East Asian nation was on edge for weeks as utility and government employees scrambled to prevent a worsening nuclear catastrophe at the Daiichi plant, located about 150 miles (240 kilometers) north of Tokyo.
Fukushima: A closer look – A deserted street near Okuma is visible from the bus window, inside the contaminated exclusion zone near the crippled nuclear power station.
Fukushima: A closer look – Throughout the summer and fall, there were no longer reports of explosions or new leaks of radioactive material into the ground and sea. But the facility still remained off limits to reporters and, for a 20-kilometer radius around the plant, to the general public, due to the continued high levels of radiation and ongoing efforts to prevent yet more blasts and leaks.
Fukushima: A closer look – Radiation readings rose steadily as the journalists neared the plant, reaching 6.7 microsieverts in Okuma. There, they put on respirator masks, adding to an ensemble of a protective suit, two pairs of gloves, two sets of plastic booties over their shoes and a radiation detector.
Fukushima: A closer look – The crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station is visible through a bus window Saturday.
Fukushima: A closer look – Journalists pass a newly built sea wall next to the crippled nuclear power station.
Fukushima: A closer look – Workers dressed in protective suits and masks are checked for radiation outside a building at J-Village, a soccer training complex now serving as an operation base for those battling Japan's nuclear disaster in Fukushima.
Fukushima: A closer look – A employee of the Tokyo Electric Power Company walks up stairs near temporary housing built for workers who live at J-Village, at the former soccer training complex.