Japan, Okuma, 2014.Inside the Central Control Room for Reactor 1 and 2 which both had a meltdown and exploded after the earthquake and tsunami hit the east coast of japan in 2011.
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Photographer Dominic Nahr has been documenting Fukushima, Japan, since the 2011 tsunami. Japan, Okuma, 2014. Inside the central control room of reactor 1 and 2. Both reactors overheated, causing meltdowns. The meltdown in reactor 1 eventually led to a hydrogen explosion that released large amounts of radioactive material in the air.Dominic Nahr for TIME
Japan, Okuma, 2014.Inside the Central Control Room for Reactor 1 and 2 which both had a meltdown and exploded after the earthquake and tsunami hit the east coast of japan in 2011.
Japan, Okuma, 2014.Nuclear workers return after their shift and arrive inside the main Anti-earthquake Building at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Japan, Okuma, 2014Inside the fuel rod pool of Reactor 4, which was the only reactor that did not have a meltdown but had extensive damage to the building in Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Japan, Okuma, 2014.A TEPCO worker in charge of security inside the Central Control Room for Reactor 1 and 2 which both had a meltdown and exploded after the earthquake and tsunami hit the east coast of japan in 2011.
Japan, Okuma, 2014A view of Reactor 4, which was the only reactor that did not have a meltdown but had extensive damage to the building at the Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Japan, Namie, 2014A dozen cow remains are dumped into a large pit along side almost two thousand cow carcasses inside the 20km exclusion zone only a few kilometres from the stricken nuclear plant.
Japan, Tomioka, 2014Bags contaminated material are seen inside the 10km zone where radiation levels are very high and residents might never be able to return.
Japan, Namie, 2014.A tunnel lit by red lights and in a high radiation zone in the mountains inside the 20km exclusion zone near the crippled Daiichi Nuclear Plant.
Japan, Namie, 2014. A public geiger counter displays the high levels of radiation inside the 10 - 20 km nuclear zone around the crippled Daiichi Nuclear Plant.
Japan, Koriyama, 2014.A woman washes her hair in the bath inside her apartment. She is worried about the radiation levels in the city and has her own geiger counter at home.
Japan, Iwaki, 2014.Inside a bathhouse in the exclusion zone for nuclear and decontamination workers.
Japan, Fukushima City, 2014Residents stand on the street while rescue teams try and get into a one bedroom apartment after a part time decontamination worker locked himself into his apartment and committed suicide by breathing in burning charcoal on the 1st of April shortly after 9pm.
Japan, Fukushima City, 2014Inside the one bedroom apartment after a part time decontamination worker committed suicide by breathing in burning charcoal on the 1st of April shortly after 9pm the night before. His last moments can be retraced with what was left on the floor.
Japan, Fukushima City, 2014A young waitress stands inside the entrance of a bar in Fukushima City. The city has a very active nightlife with many bars and restaurants open for customers, while radiation levels, even after the decontamination process, have been high in many parts of the city.
Japan, Fukushima City, 2014A poster in Fukushima city, which has been had higher radiation levels then normal due to the meltdown at the Daiichi nuclear plant.
Japan, Koriyama, 2011A worker inside the Fukushima Agricultural Technology Centre prepares to sort out vegetables from Fukushima to see the radiation levels.
Japan, Namie, 2014Water has collected in the plastic covers of a damaged roof inside a green house at M-Range owned and cared for by Mr. Yoshizawa who decided to stay behind with his cows to take care of them, even with the very high radiation levels.
Japan, Namie, 2014A small funeral service is held after the remains of cows are dumped into a large pit along side approximately two thousand cow carcasses inside the exclusion zone a few kilometres from the stricken nuclear plant.
Japan, Ikata, 2014Workers cut the grass by hand in the Ikata Nuclear Power Station by Shikoku electric Power Co. in the south of the country.
Japan, Ikata, 2014Ikata Nuclear Power Station by Shikoku electric Power Co. in the south of the country.
Japan, Ikata, 2014Spent Fuel rods Pool room of reactor 3 inside Ikata Nuclear Power Station by Shikoku electric Power Co. in the south of the country.
Japan,Iwaki, 2014Taiga Tanaka is checking his thyroid for cancer by a doctor organised by the Independent Mother's Network named “Tarachine” in Onahama, Iwaki city. Many families are distrustful of the government hospitals and the results that are given to them.
Japan, Namie, 2014During a memorial service inside the 20km exclusion nuclear zone around the crippled Daiichi Nuclear Plant on the third anniversary of the earthquake and Tsunami that hit the north east coast of Japan in 2011.
Japan, Namie, 2014Police officers stand in formation after looking for bodies inside the nuclear zone around the crippled Daiichi Nuclear Plant the day before the third anniversary of the earthquake and Tsunami that hit the north east coast of Japan in 2011.
Japan, Minamisoma, 2014A Japanese flag flies at half mast during the third anniversary of the Earthquake and Tsunami that hit the north west coast of Japan and damaged the Daiichi nuclear plant approximately 30km away which has seen many residents return.
Japan, Iwaki, 2014Young evacuee's from Naraha town living in temporary housing units, Riku (3) and Sara (2) wait for their parents Takumi and Mayumi Kitazawa (not pictured) before going shopping.
Japan, Iwaki, 2014. One of the larger temporary housing complex in Iwaki, a town where there has been a lot of tension between local residents and evacuees who receive benefits and pay no taxes for the same facilities used by the local population.
Japan, Aizuwakamatsu, 2014. Idogawa Ikuko 82 (right) holds a picture of their old house which was located in Okuma and now too radiated to return to as her husband Idogawa tsuguo 85 (left) sits with her in their sleeping and living room decorated with trinkets and hand made crafts in the temporary housing they were assigned to.
Japan, Namie, 2014.A storm can be seen over the destroyed and empty landscape inside the highly radiated 20km exclusion zone near the crippled Daiichi Nuclear Plant after the earthquake and Tsunami hit the north east coast of Japan in 2011.
Japan, Tokyo, 2014Domae, who has been fighting terminal cancer since shortly after the nuclear meltdown years is seen in a hospital in Tokyo. He used to be part of the Yakuza and went to help his friends during and after the Daiichi nuclear meltdown. His main mission now is to highlight the plight of the children who are living with unacceptable radiation levels.
Japan, Minamisoma, 2011.A view of an area devastated by the Tsunami and about 40km from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant only weeks after the fallout.
Japan, Namie, 2011.A reflection of a destroyed house and a cherry blossom tree inside the 20km exclusion zone around the damaged nuclear plant. Residents had to leave in a hurry as radiation levels reached dangerous levels.
Japan, Fukushima, 2014The site of where Shigekiyo Kanno, a Fukushima farmer, hung himself on June 10th 2011. He left suicide messages for his family and other Fukushima farmers. His farm lies along the border of Fukushima and Miyagi, separated by a narrow river. Miyagi farmer were allowed to continue farming.
Japan, Tomioka, 2014A manikin head sits on the dashboard of an abandoned car inside Tomioka, which is an abandoned town located in Futaba District within 10 km to the damaged Daiichi plant in the Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. It was hit by high levels of radiation and there is no known date when residents can return to live there.
Japan, Iwaki, 2014A stuffed tiger lies outside of cheap housings in Iwaki, which is the nearest town to the exclusion zone (approx.20km) which houses most of the nuclear and decontamination workers for the nuclear disaster at Daiichi nuclear plant.
Japan, Tokyo, 2011Sachiko Masuyama in her new home in Shinonome housing for government workers. She discovered she was pregnant, two days before the quake and was worried for his health.
Japan, Minamisoma, 2012A photograph damaged by the Tsunami is kept in a gallery for family members to find again in downtown Minamisoma.
Photographer Dominic Nahr has been documenting Fukushima, Japan, since the 2011 tsunami. Japan, Okuma, 2014. Inside the central control room of reactor 1 and 2. Both reactors overh
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Dominic Nahr for TIME
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See Inside Fukushima's Lethal Reactor

Aug 21, 2014

Two days after the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami devastated northeastern Japan, photographer Dominic Nahr joined a TIME team roving the Tohoku countryside in a very compact car. Born in Switzerland and raised in Hong Kong, Dominic is not a short man. But somehow he squeezed his lanky frame between a jerrycan of gas, a portable stove, gallons of drinking water and a mountain of food I’d packed for our rations.

We came to cover the deadly wave that had overwhelmed fishing and farming communities in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, killing nearly 20,000 people. But the natural disaster quickly gained a surreal, manmade edge. The aging Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, perched on Japan’s coastline, had been inundated by the tsunami and lost the electricity needed to operate cooling systems. Three of its reactor cores began to overheat and then melt down, sending clouds of radiation spewing into the air.

Every day, as other news crews evacuated the area, we took stock of just how close we were willing to go to the crippled plant. Radiation is invisible, and we didn’t want to be foolhardy. Dominic eventually bought a dosimeter—its Cyrillic writing signifying another nuclear disaster at Chernobyl—to track his personal radiation. We ate dried seaweed in the hope that iodine might counteract any dangerous, unseen particles.

The months went by. Even as Fukushima Daiichi still leaked radiation and the haplessness of the plant’s operator, Toyko Electric Power Co., became ever more apparent, the world’s media moved on to the next natural disaster, the next epic scandal. Dominic, though, kept returning to Fukushima. This year alone, he has spent four months documenting the climate of fear and uncertainty that envelops the region more than three-and-a-half years after the tragedy of March 2011.

Around 125,000 people have been unable to return to their homes because of the lingering radiation, with some confined to aluminum-sided temporary housing – shacks, really. At ground zero, swathed in constricting haz-mat suits and gas masks, nuclear workers struggle to decommission the plant and contain radioactive emissions. Dominic and I braved this gear for only a few hours this summer and felt exhausted even after such a brief stint. “I feel a responsibility to document what these people are enduring, both mentally and physically,” says the photographer. “There is a lingering fear and anxiety that doesn’t let go of you. Sometimes people completely break down emotionally in front of me. It’s the unknown, brought about by the invisible dangers and the lack of transparency, that seems to wear down the spirits of the affected the most.”

One night, Dominic was staying with a family in Fukushima city when he was startled by the sound of emergency sirens. Rushing outside, he was confronted by the syrupy smell of gas. Firemen broke into a nearby home, only to find a man who had barricaded the door with chains before committing suicide. The deceased had been a part-time decontamination worker in the Fukushima area. “We were,” recalls Dominic, “the same age.”

Dominic Nahr is a TIME contract photographer. LightBox previously featured Nahr's work on Somalia in Transition.

Hannah Beech is TIME’s China bureau chief and East Asia correspondent. Read her full story on the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster on TIME.com

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