Chris Martenson Exclusive: New Photos Of Fukushima Reactors

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Chris Martenson

Exclusive: new photos of Fukushima reactors

Noting that the press has largely turned its resources off of the Fukushima complex, and needing up-to-date information on the status of the damage control efforts there, we secured the most up-to-date satellite photo from DigitalGlobe (dated March 31st), which we analyze below. This is the first photo of the damaged reactor site at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear facility made available to the public in over a week. That means you, our readers, are the first public eyes anywhere to see this photo.

Drawing upon the expertise of our resident nuclear engineer and Ann Stringer, imaging expert, we conclude that the situation at Fukushima is not stabilized: things are not yet at a place of steady progress in the containment and clean-up efforts. It's still a dance, forwards and backwards, with the workers making gains here and there and the situation forcing them to react defensively.

In this report, we will tell you what we know for sure, what we are nearly certain of, and what we remain forced to speculate about.

Here is a portion of a much larger image (covering 25 square kilometers in total) showing the reactor complex as of March 31, at roughly mid-day:

Photo Credit, 2011, DigitalGlobe

What We Can See

Here's what we can directly observe in the larger satellite image:

  • Steam is still rising from reactors #2, #3 (circled in green) and #4.
  • Of the four reactor buildings, three are nearly or totally destroyed, while the outside (at least) of the fourth is in relatively better shape.
  • We can count 7 fire trucks 'on site' with another 7 just to the north, all with water lines strung out across the ground.
  • There is only one ship/vessel to be seen, located inside of the breakwater and nearly as far to the north as it can go inside that boundary.
  • A significant number of the vehicles that can be seen at the core of the site have not moved since the first released photos on March 12.  
  • There is a parking lot slightly to the north and west with approximately 250 passenger vehicles in it and a side lot with 30 large green tanks neatly arranged in rows.
  • The rest of the area is one, two, and four lane roads (no traffic at all), worked farmland, residential and commercial areas, mostly empty parking lots, and two baseball diamonds.

Here's what we don't see

  • Nowhere in the 25 km area in the main photo can we find anything that looks like a staging area with a large collection of assets such as tanker trucks, pumpers, cement trucks, piles of pre-staged materials, ambulances, and fire trucks.
  • The cement pumper truck seen a week ago has been apparently replaced by the boom at reactor #4.
  • There's no obvious barge delivering fresh water for the rector cooling efforts as recently reported (it may have come and gone?).
  • Any obvious changes to the roofs of any of the reactors.
  • Any people outside the plants working.

Things we can logically conclude

The steam that is venting is a mixed blessing. It implies that cooling water is getting to some hot material, which is a good thing, but it also means that something is hot enough to vaporize water and the continued release of radioactivity into the surrounding environment.

This means that the lack of steam coming from reactor #1 is either a very good sign, or a very bad sign. Good because it could mean that the containment vessels are intact and cooling water is circulating. Bad because it could imply that no water is getting to it and it is a very hot mass right now. According to TEPCO, reactor #1 has had seawater, and now freshwater, circulating through the reactor vessel - and since both containment vessels are intact, we'll conclude the lack of steam is a good sign.

The situation at Fukushima is going to drag on for years. First there's the matter of stabilizing the situation which has not yet been fully achieved. Recent surprises in terms of the amounts and locations of radioactivity are one sign that the situation is not fully stabilized. Still, nothing has blown up in quite a while, the steam venting appears consistent, and the major surprises seem to be over for now. While the TEPCO workers are still reacting to things as they arise, these are smaller things than last week, which is another hopeful sign.

The detected presence of neutron beams, I-134, and radioactive chlorine are all strongly supportive of the idea that criticality has resumed. Our best guess is that these are localized pockets, probably of short duration, and do not involve the entire core mass of any particular reactor conflagrating in some gigantic, greenish blob of uncontrolled fission. The geometries of the fuel in relation to neutron moderators requires precise conditions to support sustained fission and so it is rather unlikely to be occurring in anything other than localized pockets. If the entire reactor in its fully operational state was capable of supporting what we might scale to 100% fission, the amount of fission happening after a partial (or complete) meltdown will be a far lesser percentage. Still, any amount of fission is unwelcome at this point because it is adding to the heat and radiation removal difficulties.

The constantly rising levels of radioactivity found in the seawater are a further unwelcome development, but without a proper isotope analysis we cannot conclude anything about the potential resumption of fission from their gross amounts alone. It's always possible that the leftover fission products are now being washed in larger amounts into the sea for some reason.

Additional Drone Photos

These are the most detailed photos yet to emerge into the public space (released yesterday, March 31, as far as I know), and they are purported to come from a drone flyover on March 20 and 24th.  They are really quite good, and worth viewing in their entirety here.

Beginning with reactor 3, one thing we can say is, this thing is a right proper mess:

(Source for all that follow) 

There's a significant hole to the left of center that goes deep into the sub-structure (with a strange greenish cast that we've not been able to resolve after much conjecture) and it's clear that this building alone will take a long time to resolve.

Interestingly, we get our clearest image yet of the hole in turbine building #3 that was created by something ejected into the air during the reactor #3 explosion.

Looking like one of those cartoon cutouts that happens when the coyote hits the ground, we get the impression that whatever it was happened to be quite heavy and possibly shaped like an Apollo capsule. It has been my suspicion, which contradicts the official story, that the concrete containment vessel was what actually blew up in reactor #3 and I have been looking for evidence of in the form of large, heavy chunks of concrete (especially the refueling plug) lying about. I don't know what made this hole in the roof of the turbine building, but it was heavy.

Reactor #4 provides us with proof that serious damage can result from the effects of an overheated spent fuel storage pool:

Here the watering boom can be clearly seen. A camera was recently attached to the boom and it took some interior shots which were suggestive of the idea that the spent fuel pool is damaged and largely drained of water. Spraying water into this pool, then, is probably a balancing act with the desire to spray enough water on the rods to keep them cool being offset by the risk of having radioactive water drain away for parts unknown.

Almost certainly this same balancing act defines the efforts for reactors #2 and #3 as well.


The efforts at Fukushima are probably weeks away from even basic stabilization and we are years away from any sort of a final resolution. This crisis is going to be with all of us for a very long time. Radiation will continue to escape from the complex into the environment for weeks at best, months or years at worst.

The chief concern here is that things might still take a turn for the worse whereby radiation spikes to levels that prevent humans from getting close enough to perform meaningful operations and work on the site. If the radiation spikes high enough it will force an evacuation from the vicinity complicating every part of what has to happen next from monitoring to remediation.

The general lack of staged materials anywhere in the vicinity indicates that authorities have not yet decided on a plan of action, feeding our assessment that they are still in 'react mode' and that we are weeks away from nominal stabilization.

On Thursday we learned from the Wall Street Journal that TEPCO only had one stretcher, a satellite phone, 50 protective suits, and only enough dosimeters to give a single one to each worker group. Given this woeful level of preparation it is not surprising to see that regular fire trucks, cement trucks, and a lack of staged materials comprise much of the current damage control mix.

We don't yet know enough to conclude how much fission has spontaneously re-occurred, but we have strong suspicions that the number is higher than zero. Here we make our call for the release of more complete and timely radiation readouts and sampling results by TEPCO and Japan so that we can assess what the true risks are. The situation remains fluid and quite a lot depends now on chance and which way the wind blows. 

And as I detailed in the Alert report I issued soonafter the tragic events of the Japan earthquake and tsunami on March 10th, the impact of Japan's tribulations on the global economy will be large and vast. World markets are simply unpreapared for the third-largest economy to suddenly and violently downshift. The persisting crisis at Fukushima simply worsens the picture.

As always, we'll continue montioring developments closely and reporting our findings and conclusions on this site.



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Kina's picture

This is very worrying, having watched the video of reactor #4 building yesterday and the copious quantities of steam and condensation emitting from what seemed to be the spent fuel rod pool.


The lack of a staging area and the seeming absence of additional cooling/water pumping spraying machinery seems truly bizarre. They are always a few hours away from more meltdowns and thus the breakdown in a pump disrupting cooling efforts will bring them to the edge again.


Surly they must have a great number of fire trucks, massive water pumps and hoses on standby should the current water cooling machinery fails. It isn't apparent from the photos.


This lack of adequacy in materials and machinery at the plant is even more bizarre that it is not too far from Tokyo and has the capacity to poison half the country if truly out of control. With Chernobyl they threw everything at it including thousands of people.

At Fukushima it seems they are just allocating a few buckets of water and a few hunder people - where they should be going for the super over kill, since you wont get too many chances at this.

The material effort at Fukushima just seems so piddling and inadequate.


So my prediction is that the inevitable will happen. Pumps that have been going full blast for a week or so will break down, the Japanese will be scrambling to bring in new equipment and mean time all the spent and non-spent fuel rods will get dry enough to get out of hand, vaporise the remaining water and start melting and fires. Making the place even more dangerous to approach.


EDIT:  I just saw the post above where they are bringing in big pumps. Though it all seems so late and behind the curve.

kaiserhoff's picture

piddling and inadequate...

Ca-ching.  I think we have a winner.

AN0NYM0US's picture

where's GW when you need him?

NOAA Scientists Accidentally Kill 3 Dolphins

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says federal scientists trawling for fish to test for possible damage from last year's Gulf of Mexico oil spill accidentally caught and drowned three dolphins.

Hephasteus's picture

It's like those hospitals where you can go in perfectly healthy for a checkup and die 2 days later from the staph infection they gave you.

real's picture
i don't get it. for days zh has covered this non stop and now since yesterday just a few mentions. is this a burnt out story, or maybe zh discovered its all getting better,  i have told many to come here and learn what's really going on, i hope zh's reporting has been honest and not just attention getting in the theme of doomsday. I say this because knowing from information can be just knowing information. i want to trust zh 
Stormdancer's picture

There have been fewer "events" reported these past 24 hours or so...which is probably a good thing.  But, this is far, far from over and I have no doubt that there are many hurdles left to overcome and I'm quite sure ZH will continue to report them as they develop.

espirit's picture

Where else are you going to get Hi-Rez photos, or links to realtime geiger readings?

On the Nightly News?  buuhahahah!

TerraHertz's picture

Blue luminance... oh crap.

What's wierdest, is that last night before going to bed I was thinking that exactly this could be the 'next stage'. There's a very clear and consistent trendline, that the situation just keeps getting worse. And pretty much the next possible worse stage would have to be criticalities happening in the piles of loose fuel pellets in the spent fuel pools. Particularly of #4, which contains 'not spent' fuel.

I kind of hope there *isn't* much (or any) water left in #4's pool, since a prompt criticality would be capable of flash-boiling all the remaining water. Result - huge steam explosion, blowing the fuel pile all over the countryside.

Sigh... but in this mess, maybe that would be a relatively good thing? At least it would stop the criticality, and hence the production of fission products. And it would solve the 'how to reach and dismantle the SFP' problem.

But there's still three other reactors. Not counting #5 & 6.

Kina's picture

Fukushima Daiichi is a mess and all efforts to date seem to be maintain the status quo.

It is not clear that they have been able to maintain the status quo given the mixed data and bs coming from the Japanese.

YOU can assume however that if all things were well, under control and now the task was simply clean up then the Japanese would be releasing much more data and video.


What we need is an insider to leak wtf is going on at the site and the real status.

constanceplumtree's picture

I don't think there are insiders who know what is really going on.  Broken instruments.  everybody's operating in the dark seems like

Stormdancer's picture

They know  one heck of a lot more than they're telling.

Ident 7777 economy's picture


They know one heck of a lot more than they're telling.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Beyond 'worst case' meltdown (uncovery of a nuclear fuel core) of a single reactor core,  I haven't seen anything yet that considered fuel pools being uncovered x 4 (times four) PLUS core uncovery in 3 other reactors, combined with destruction/seawater inundation of all surrounding/supporting control infrastructure (like control rooms, EDG, incoming power from the AC grid, roads and sheds torn up) ... have you?






nah's picture

by Kina
on Fri, 04/01/2011 - 20:30

What we need is an insider to leak wtf is going on at the site and the real status.


On a long enough timeline the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.

SunBlaster's picture

Three weeks later where is Japanese ARMY and NAVY?

franzpick's picture

The general lack of staged materials anywhere in the vicinity indicates that authorities have not yet decided on a plan of action.

Very nice report, and I agree we are facing a prolonged GOM type Pacific-wide contamination, but the authorities do have a plan of action, and the question is why isn't it being reported: 5 of the biggest concrete-pumping cranes in the world are now on their way to Tokyo, the largest crane of which is being moved from Hanahan SC to Atlanta Hartsfield, for loading aboard the world's largest cargo plane, the Russian Antonov 225, for delivery to Tokyo next week.

From the report:

The "Chernobyl" solution here we come...there are only 3 such concrete pumps in the world, with 70-meter booms and operated with remote control. They were all made by a German company, Putzmeister. Two of them will go to Fukushima. There's also a 58-meter-boom pump from Vietnam going there, and two 62-meter-boom pumps are already on the way to Fukushima from Germany, it is understood, according to the article below.They will be first used to pump water for cooling, then to pump concrete:

I have stocked cases of tuna-in-water and tuna-in-oil, and will watch for the sale on tuna-in-concrete.

Jim in MN's picture

Putzmeister.  Fuckin' right.  Putzmeister saves the world (or, more shit you couldn't make up if you tried)....

franzpick's picture

And here:

And, is this deployment of resources 1) just being ignored, or 2) being covered up, and if so, why ?

espirit's picture

and if the biggest and the baddest don't do it?

WTF? 60's nuclear drill, kiss your a** goodbye.

prophet's picture

My earlier post of a link with pictures and discussion of the pumpers used in Russia:

by prophet
on Tue, 03/22/2011 - 18:17

franzpick's picture

Nice link and photos. 

Can you comment on how important to containment was the concreted tunnel dug below Chernobyl, and whether that needs to be done under Fukushima, and, if it cannot be done, what might be the consequences ?

prophet's picture

only to hope that the underground pumping plans are in full swing given the proximity to the ocean and seismic zone

franzpick's picture

Concreting over the reactor tops without tunneling into the below sea-level/water table and filling with concrete would be very problematic, compared to the dry-land Chernobyl tunnel; my suspicion is that they have ordered delivery of the German remote-controlled concrete crane pumps, and plan to accomplish a "Chernobyl (concrete) sarcophagus" while finessing any concrete sub-floor containment that would protect the sea from contamination.

TheMerryPrankster's picture

Tuna in concrete label warning:

"This tuna was processed in a facility and using machinery that also processed Tuna-in-Plutonium and Tuna-in-Light-Mercury and should not be consumed by persons having an allergy to any of the mentioned substances."

And on the front of the can is a recipes for Tuna-in-concrete CrunchyRock Tuna Flambe.

The best part is due to high radiation, it will last longer than the can it is packaged in.

franzpick's picture

+ 5 ounces/141 grams, and LOLouderAndLouder

And maybe that CrunchyRock will sell better subtitled 'TunaToothKrackay'

Ident 7777 economy's picture


What is it with all the 'tuna' postings?


Just curious ...

Ident 7777 economy's picture

'Fish trafficking' -  free-enterprise at work without encumbering UN resolutions and restrictions ...


For or against?


As a side note, they don't seem to have 'run out of fish' yet (if this sort of activity is still on-going, and they are still hauling-in tuna) ...



rookie's picture

Thank you for posting this.  And thank you to all of the people working on a solution.

ebworthen's picture



What other word is there?

Fukushima is a physical manifestation of the hubris of humanity.

It is a physical manifestation of the banking/housing/currency/human hubris bubble.

In the markets, finance, government, and in our cultures and societies we have leveraged generations of work and sacrifice for immediate gratification and a sense of self unsubstantiated by reality.

Pushing reactors 10-20 years past their design life?  Bailing out banks that hit the roulette wheel with generations of savings and retirement?  Governments and central banks that support legerdemain and malfeasance, the rescinding of individual rights dating back over 900 years!?!?!?

If only HELL could rain down upon the guilty only!



prophet's picture

I found this description of the accident progression by Areva to be informative:

bob_dabolina's picture

All I want to know is:

When reactor 3 exploded where there three distinct explosions?

I am going to the bar and when I return I expect an answer.

goldfish1's picture

Was reactor three the first reactor that exploded or the second reactor that exploded?

If it was the first reactor, i think I remember there were two distinct explosions.

"Who's on first, What's on second, I Don't Know is on third..."

Ident 7777 economy's picture

Was reactor three the first reactor that exploded or the second reactor that exploded? - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Sequence as follows:

1 - 3 - 2 - 4

#1 - 12 March, Saturday, 18:36 Reactor building #1 at Fukushima I, wrecked by explosion.

#3 - 14 March, Monday, 11:15 The outer building containing reactor Unit #3 at Fukushima I is severely damaged by an explosion,

#2 - 15 March, Tuesday, 06:14 3rd explosion involving Rx #2 bldg, the pressure-suppression system (the torus) is feared damaged

#4 - 15 March, Tuesday, 08:54 Explosion and fire reported at Unit 4.



PenGun's picture

 It looks like two to me. The yellowish one first on the bottom side facing #4 then she went up all at once after that, with several big objects in the mix. .

Ident 7777 economy's picture

When reactor 3 exploded where there three distinct explosions?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Asked and answered several times over previously, counselor ...

By my count there were THREE (3), not two (2) and not just one (1) report (or boom). I say again THREE (3) as in one-two-THREE booms were heard on the audio accompanying that video clip of #3 reactor bldg going up. (What - did everyone just watch the video - and didn't listen to the SOUND? Just curious ...)


Here's the thinking on echoes -


-IF there were echoes from some large, nearby structure(s)  (the reports sound verry close in amplitude to each other, there is a little differnce, but not much; could have been ALC or AGC on the audio levels by the recording video camera though) the number of observed/heard echoes would have been DOUBLED (for each echo-producing structure), therefore, an observation of THREE 'reports' (booms) doesn't seem to be adequately explained by simple 'echoes' being heard ...




TerraHertz's picture

Yeah, it's one of the big mysteries, along with why no video of the #4 explosion?

I saved the various videos of #3 blowing up. Re-ran to listen to the bangs, trying to see any evidence of visibly distinct explosions. Allowing for time delay of the sound wave. Yes, three very distinct and almost identical audible bangs, roughly equally spaced. But nothing in the visible explosion to match.

It's very odd. That and the vertical jet of debris was what made me initially think the core pressure vessel had blown. But now I'm pretty sure that can't be so.

Only faint possibility I can come up with for the 'three bangs', is that there were atmospheric temperature inversion layers, and the distant observation point got one original and two longer-path inversion layer reflections of the sound wave.

But I think that's grasping at straws. So I dunno.

Might be interesting to extract the sound track and have a look at it in a waveform editor. Round tuit..

trav7777's picture

redundant article...

One point needs to be taken to heart "without isotope analysis," there is no way to know wtf is going on either in the water or on the land.

Is the geiger guy in Tokyo still broadcasting?

franzpick's picture

Hey Mr. 7777 DisInfo thug:  If you don't know wtf is going on in the water or on land, why not change your handle to: "I-Is-A-Dope" ?

thedrickster's picture

He may be an asshole but he is not a disinfo thug.

Monetative Easing's picture

I wouldn't even go so far as asshole.  Maybe abrasive but that's about the extent of it.  This place features more than a few hysterical types who post about how dire things are in the world without really having a clue about the subjects being discussed. 

Given that most people here don't understand banking, capital markets, economics and finance in general, it should come as no surprise that some regulars here get called out for their misinformed (or badly formed or not formed at all) opinions nuclear energy and physics.




WaterWings's picture

Wow, that's a little presumptuous, no? What do you think you know about ZH regulars? You've only been posting on this Japanese crisis lately. Does one need a PhD in Econ to understand the financial debacle; the gross criminal behavior and open plunder?


AccreditedEYE's picture

+100 I've only been here over a year and still consider myself a newbie here. Respect is a plus.

PS- RoboTrader, this one is for you:

yes, I am drunk... lmao!!!  Doesn't diminish water wings point!!! :)

CustomersMan's picture


      Why All Governments Will Go Down


    Governments think because they have been in charge,...that they will continue to be in charge. You can't keep lying to people while you try and figure out a way to lie yourself out of the CRISIS or pull a rabbit out of your hat. And in the example below millions of lives and families are at stake.


              Those DAYS ARE GONE


     I'm not picking on Japan, because we have more deception, misinformation, outright lies and hipocracy right here.


    Here is an example;

GREENPEACE Measures EXTREME RADIATION 40KM From Fukushima - Why No Evacuation? By: Alex2245 From WhatReally

Maximum Annual Dose In Few Days!

Regardless of what anyone thinks about GreenPeace and their stance on fraudulent man made warning, this video clearly shows that levels at least 40km from the plant are EXTREMELY high!

People NEED to be evacuated from the area. The Japanese government is involved in a CRIMINAL cover up that possibly extends to the IAEA and various other governments who are openly lying about the situation.


Ewe235's picture

A specialized contractor I know very well went to Japan last week to provide some support for these units.  He thinks it is worse than is being reported on MSM, but the chaos there makes it hard to get a clear assessment.  Says TEPCO management is absolutely paralyzed.

Global Hunter's picture

Not surprised.  I was reading today about a mayor of a town beyond the enforced evacuation zone but in the suggested one and he was pleading for water, food and fuel for the people.  I suspect beyond the plant itself communities have just been forgotten.  The whole thing is truly heartbreaking.  If the people in control are paralyzed it makes me wonder why they won't be open and ask for help.