Five years ago, a 9.0 undersea earthquake shook Japan. It was the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in the country, and it was followed by devastating tsunami waves, killing 15,894 people. The tsunami caused level 7 meltdowns at three reactors in the Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex, resulting in the largest nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl explosion.
The incident forced 100,000 people to leave the contaminated areas, and the decontamination and decommissioning process at the TEPCO’s embattled nuclear power plant is still well underway. Getty photographer Christopher Furlong took a tour inside the disaster area, and shot stunning portraits of the employees who work at the plant. Unlike the majority of the Chernobyl liquidators, these people are trained professionals not risking their health—but it’s still creepy to look directly into their eyes.
The title of this article is misleading: what about these photos paints a dire picture of the clean up process? If anything, they humanize it.
Please consider changing the title to something that doesn’t contribute to the already-high and, in my opinion, irrational fear people have of this nuclear disaster. To date, no plant workers or local residents have died from radiation exposure and experts’ future cancer estimates have a worst-case outlook of <100 cases.