Scenes from the Fukushima Exclusion Zone Scenes from the Fukushima Exclusion Zone
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Scenes from the Fukushima Exclusion Zone

by Ben Jervey

April 23, 2011

In the wake of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, photographer Donald Weber set out for the "exclusion zone" around the Fukushima nuclear reactors. Residents of this buffer area were forced to evacuate immediately after the tsunami struck, leaving an eerie abandoned urban landscape. Besides the military, Weber and his partner were, he believes, "the only other people to go to the exclusion zone and actually see what the reality is there."

Having spent a lot of time shooting in post-atomic Chernobyl, Weber is plenty familiar with what he describes as "abandoned wastelands." For their "Picture Perfect" series on photography, caught up with Weber, and released a stunning video of his interview, along with footage and photos from his experience.

The silence and stillness was something I've only ever heard in Chernobyl.

Most striking is how intact everything is in so many of these towns. Weber told a friend, "Picture your neighborhood in Toronto, and I just called you and said, 'Leave right now. Run.' How would you leave your apartment? That's what it looked like."

See for yourself.


The whole video is fascinating, but if you want to jump ahead to his experience in Japan, it starts around seven minutes.

Ben Jervey More Info

Ben is a writer and editor covering climate change, energy, and environment, and is currently the Climate and Energy Media Fellow at Vermont Law School. He was the original Environment Editor at GOOD Magazine and his work has appeared regularly in National Geographic News, Grist, DeSmogBlog, and OnEarth. He recently worked with the non-profit Focus the Nation to publish an Energy 101 primer. When living in New York City, he wrote a book, The Big Green Apple, on how to live a lower impact life in the city. A bicycle enthusiast, Ben has ridden across the United States and through much of Europe.
Some recent articles by Ben Jervey:
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Scenes from the Fukushima Exclusion Zone