Fukushima: Chaos reigns via Salon

FUKUSHIMA, Japan — A visit to the scene of Japan’s worst nuclear accident, almost a year after the area was struck by a powerful earthquake and tsunami, is a study in contrasts.

Elsewhere along the vast stretch of coast hit by the March 11 tsunami there are palpable signs of progress. Almost all of the 23 million tons of rubble has been removed, although rebuilding has yet to start.

But at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the cleanup looks like it has barely begun. Instead, the real work is being done, unseen, deep inside the crippled reactors, where melted fuel remains cool, but whose precise state and location remains a mystery.

The destructive force of three reactor meltdowns is evident as soon as the bus carrying a small group of journalists invited by the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), enters the 20-kilometer (13-mile) exclusion zone imposed after the first reactor building exploded on March 12.

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