Abandoned Fukushima: Filmmakers explore eerie towns evacuated in nuclear disaster (VIDEO)
The group, which publishes videos to YouTube under the name ‘Exploring the Unbeaten Path,’ has previously filmed ventures into places as varied and far-flung as Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, an abandoned asylum in Taiwan and a disused old rig off the coast of Scotland.
For its latest adventure, Dutch filmmaker Bob Thissen led the team to the site of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, which happened in March 2011. The crisis came about when a 9.0 magnitude earthquake knocked out the plant’s reactors. A subsequent tsunami then disabled the emergency generators, leading to partial meltdowns in each reactor and the release of radioactive material.
More than 170,000 people were ordered to evacuate a 10-mile radius around the plant, meaning a large number of homes and businesses have now been left untouched for more than six years.
Speaking to RT.com ahead of the release of the group’s seven-episode Fukushima series, Thissen describes a scene reminiscent of bleak post-apocalyptic movies in which animals roam free and homes and vehicles stand empty.
“It's heartbreaking to see how people fled and left all their belongings behind. I saw schools that looked the exactly the same as it was left six years ago,” he said. “There were bags on benches with all their personal items inside. It must have been a terrible experience for those children. I can't imagine having to flee and not be able to return anytime soon.”
Areas that exceed the legal limit of 1 millisievert of radiation per year are classified as ‘red zones,’ or “difficult to return to zones.” Some roads go through these red zones, making it illegal for drivers to even stop their cars there. For Thissen, visiting these places was like “walking in a horror movie.”
“In supermarkets rats and mice take over and eat all the food. Wild hogs go into houses to search for food,” he said. “Because nobody knows exactly what radiation does to the body, most people don't return. I think in a few years most radiation will be cleaned up, but the towns will never be the same.”
Exploring the Unbeaten Path continues to build a strong following online, with its video from inside hangars containing the Soviet space shuttles in Baikonur Cosmodrome receiving over 1 million views on YouTube.