Accessibility links

Breaking News

VOA's Steve Herman Visits Site of Japan’s Crippled Fukushima Reactor

Guards read a whiteboard near the Fukushima-1 nuclear plant's main gate

Steve Herman describes once-thriving towns near the crippled nuclear plant as completely abandoned.

VOA correspondent Steve Herman is back in the forefront of reporting the Japanese nuclear disaster story after he and another American journalist became the first to reach the grounds of the crippled Fukushima-1 power plant.

Herman, traveling with a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, was stopped at the main gate to the badly damaged nuclear plant on Wednesday after traversing a series of roadblocks in the 20 kilometer radiation exclusion zone declared March 13. Guards turned the vehicle away after it reached the site of the disaster, which has been equated with the Chernobyl nuclear explosion.

Herman describes the once-thriving towns near the crippled nuclear plant as completely abandoned, without a single civilian to be found. “Police instructed us not to open our vehicle windows and to report to a radiation screening center in the town of Tamura afterwards, where we should wash the truck,” Herman says.

Herman’s photographs and eyewitness description of the depopulated zone are among the most viewed articles on the VOA’s website (click here), and he was interviewed Thursday by CNN’s American Morning (click here) and ABC television’s Bob Woodruff.

Herman’s use of Twitter and other social media sites in the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster has been widely praised by his colleagues. The Asian American Journalists Association, NPR, ABC radio and a host of international broadcasters have interviewed Herman (see link for details) about his experiences.

An Australian Broadcasting Corporation article titled “Journalism’s New Wave, the World in a Tweet” noted Herman’s Twitter page (@W7VOA) was one of a select group that, “have kept us ahead of the curve in reporting aftershocks, tsunami effects and nuclear crisis developments.”

Herman says he was compelled to visit the reactor site this week to get a “first-hand look at the subject he has been reporting on.” He says, the visit was “carefully calculated to avoid unnecessary risk” and undertaken while there was still no legal reason preventing entry into the zone.

For more information about interviews with Steve Herman, visit the VOA Public Relations website at For the latest news from the United States and around the world visit