It was the second time the journalists were given a tour of the disaster site, in the wake of the one-year anniversary of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that took out the six-reactor plant on the Japanese coast near Tokyo on March 11 2011.
Photos show a huddle of respirator-fitted people looking like a group of penguins waddling in white space suits. The journalists wore protective suits, double layers of gloves, plastic boot covers and hair nets. All carried respiration masks and radiation detectors, according to news site The Telegraph.
As if any amount of protective equipment would make a person feel safe inside the site of the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, 25 years ago.
As you may recall, the earthquake and 45 foot tsunami were followed by of a series of events including nuclear meltdown, equipment failure, and radioactive releases. Sea water was used to flood the reactors, which caused complete failure of the reactors. An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 people had to flee their homes.
It is estimated that it will take decades to clean up the contaminated site. The Japanese government has estimated that the radiation released was equal to about one-tenth of that released at Chernobyl.
The plant is now shut down. Removing the contaminated fuel will proved to be hugely challenging.
Even though many facts are known, we are a long way from transparency, folks. It is widely believed that the disaster much more far-reaching than the government has admitted. A former industry vice president has called it “the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind.”
The Japanese government has a long history of cover-ups in the industry, including dismissals of tsunami threats and falsification of records. Now, new fears have been raised that the damaged reactors have started to overheat once again. Claims of overheating have been denied, and problems have been blamed on faulty thermometers.
Remember, volunteers who were old or sick filled the ranks for the cleanup following the accident. Unbelievably, thousands still work at the plant each day. Their shifts are limited to six hours per day.