In this picture taken on July 27, 2018 and made available on July 30, 2018, a staff member of the Tokyo Electric Power Company measures radiation levels between reactor unit 2 and unit 3 (Rear) at the tsunami-crippled Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima prefecture. Source: Kimimasa MAYAMA / POOL / AFP)
IN MARCH 2011, Tohoku, a region of Japan’s Honshu Island, was shaken by a devastating magnitude-9 earthquake that triggered a tsunami with waves up to 128 feet high.
The event killed 16,000 people and flooded the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which comprised six separate boiling reactors maintained by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), causing a catastrophic nuclear disaster.
The Fukushima meltdown is considered the most significant nuclear incident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster and the second disaster to be given the Level 7 event classification of the International Nuclear Event Scale.
It set off a chain of events that continue to affect the region, including fears of cancers as a result of accumulated radiation exposures.
Some tours to the Fukushima disaster area have commenced, in a bid to create awareness about the situation and change its reputational damage, but contamination and health impact concerns still take precedent over curiosity.
Now, there is a safer way to tour Fukushima Daiichi without subjecting yourself to potential physical harm. In fact, you will not even have to leave your seat, much less get on a flight to Japan.
TEPCO has launched an online virtual tour – “Inside Fukushima Daiichi” – inside the nuclear power plant which will enable visitors to check on the progress of decommissioning work.
The tour will take you through 10 routes within Fukushima Daiichi’s plant premises, separated into color-coded zones according to the degree of radioactive contamination:
- Green: Makes up a large part of the premises where workers wear regular uniforms.
- Yellow: Protective clothing and a full- or half-face masks are required.
- Red: Crisis-hit reactor buildings where protective clothing and full-face masks are required.
“Inside Fukushima Daiichi” highlights reactor unit No. 3, which suffered a hydrogen explosion that blew the roof off the building. It also allows a closer look of reactor unit No. 5, which is located on higher ground and thus, unscathed by the tsunami.
The tour is narrated in both Japanese and English, offering detailed explanations of the routes every step of the way. Radiation levels last measured on March 22, 2018, are also indicted on the side of the screen.
More information and FAQs, such as “What occurred during the accident in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station?” and “How is the radiation exposure dose of workers in on-site managed?” are readily available in the bottom right “Q&A” icon.
TECP launched “Inside Fukushima Daiichi” in English after receiving requests from parties abroad to see current conditions at the plant.
The utility added that it has plans to make the English tour mobile-friendly soon.
Take the tour here.