A Visual Assessment of Damage at Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant

Look at these satellite images of the Fukushima nuclear reactors before and after the earthquake, tsunami, and explosions.

Every day since the massive earthquake off the coast of Japan, I wake up hoping to hear some kind of good new, hoping that things are at least starting to get better. But every day it just seems to get worse and worse.

This morning, we rise to find these headlines:

(Credit to National Geographic's Dennis Dimmick for highlighting these papers this morning, and for linking to the visual assessments below.)

First, a quick reminder that we're constantly updating our list of ways to help and support the rescue and relief efforts in Japan.

As for the current state of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, it's hard to balance the more conservative comments from the Japanese government (who understandably don't want to cause panic) with the more sensational headlines coming from much western media.

While conflicting reports fly around, one of the only things you can be 100 percent certain of are photographs, videos, and other visual documentation. I found these aerial images (combined with the very helpful video from Reuters that we posted earlier) from Digital Globe (PDF) to really help my understanding of the situation there.

The images, from before the earthquake and then from March 13 and 14 show the sequence of destruction in the different reactor buildings. Digital Globe has a whole packet available as a PDF that is well worth examining.

Where exactly do things stand now? A third blast that occurred overnight (in America) and officials warned that radiation had reached "harmful levels." Reuters then reported that this "nuclear crisis is equivalent to number six on the INES scale of nuclear accidents from one to seven." Chernobyl was a seven, and Three Mile Island was a five. The government later said that radiation levels had fallen.

Image: Digital Globe

via Alan Levine / Flickr

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