27 Février 2012
February 28, 2012
FUKUSHIMA--The heavily damaged upper framework of the buildings housing the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant were photographed from a Yomiuri Shimbun jet Sunday, one day after the easing of restrictions on the area's no-fly zone.
Also photographed were rows of about 1,000 tanks used to store increasing amounts of radiation-contaminated water that were installed on the plant grounds after the disaster.
The aircraft Mirai carried us north from Tokyo and came as close as six kilometers from the plant in Fukushima Prefecture.
The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry reduced the area of the no-fly zone around the plant from a radius of 20 kilometers to three kilometers on Saturday.
The upper part of the buildings housing the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors appeared skeletal due to the explosions that occurred in the buildings in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11.
As we approached the plant, the buildings' miserable appearance became apparent.
The plant grounds were entirely covered with snow, and the lid of the No. 4 reactor's containment vessel was clearly seen through the building's exposed framework.
Once the aircraft turned to view the No. 2 reactor building from the coast, a big opening in the wall was visible despite the fact that the building had not exploded. The opening was created after a pressure-release panel fell down due to some shocks.
Walls of some other structures located on the sea coast were also blown away.
West of the No. 4 reactor building are blue and gray tanks standing in orderly rows.
The tanks were installed to contain an increasing amount of water with low levels of radioactive substances. About 1,000 tanks contain an estimated 120,000 tons of contaminated water.
No people were spotted in neighboring towns. Alleys in local residential areas were covered with snow. A dosimeter installed in the Mirai aircraft detected radiation measuring as high as 0.9 microsieverts per hour northwest of the plant.
About 40 years of challenging work will be needed to decommission and dismantle the Nos. 1 to 4 reactors.
The sight of the plant from the air has seared into our memory the cruel accident, which destroyed the livelihoods of more than 110,000 local residents.