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BBC World Service

A look inside the Fukushima nuclear plant

Roland Buerk Feb 29, 2012

Adriene Hill: We’ve also got better-than-expected economic data from Japan today, but the country’s economy is still recovering from the earthquake and tsunami that hit last March.

For the first time since the disaster, foreign journalists have been allowed inside the Fukushima nuclear power station. The BBC’s Roland Buerk just toured the plant, and joins us now from Tokyo. Good morning.

Roland Buerk: Good morning.

Hill: You were one of the few journalists let inside the Fukushima plant. What was it like?

Buerk: Well, we had to get dressed up in protective gear — white plastic boiler suits, respirators, triple layers of gloves, plastic over shoes as well — to go in there and face the radiation. We were taken right up to the reactors. What we saw was that the reactors are now stabilized — they’re being cooled — but the way it’s being done still looks pretty makeshift, to be honest. There are plastic pipes of water running all over the site; that’s the circulation system. And the plant’s manager says he would like it to be a more secure system. What they’re worried about there is another tsunami, another earthquake. That could tip what is a pretty stable disaster now back into crisis again.

Hill: And what have we learned about how the U.S. worked with Japan during the crisis?

Buerk: Well when you go around the Fukushima nuclear plant, you can see messages from the U.S., from the nuclear regulators and authorities in the United States; handwritten messages of good luck in the control room. What they say is that they needed their help and that they were grateful for the help of other nations in tackling the crisis. And they are also going to be seeking advice and want help of other nations in the next phase, and that’s going to be to try to dismantle the plant to try to decontaminate the area around it. It’s a huge job, and the Japanese government warned it could take up to 40 years.

Hill: The BBC’s Roland Buerk in Tokyo, thanks.

Buerk: Thank you.

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