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Miles O’Brien returns to the site of Japan’s nuclear disaster three years later

BY Rebecca Jacobson  August 6, 2014 at 7:49 PM EST

In March 2011, a magnitude 9.0 Tohoku earthquake shook Japan, triggering a catastrophic tsunami and nuclear disaster. Since then, PBS NewsHour science correspondent Miles O’Brien has provided some of the most in-depth reporting on the subject to-date. He has traveled to Fukushima three times and six times entered the exclusion zone, which he described as a “post-apocalyptic landscape of abandoned towns, frozen in time.”

We’ve stitched his latest reports together into this documentary-length video. They include his tour of the hazardous Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and a look at the health of marine life off the coast of Japan. He also delves into the debate on the future of nuclear power there. Plus, a never-before-seen exclusive tour of Fukushima Daini, Daiichi’s sister plant, which narrowly escaped the same fate.

A year after Daiichi failed, Japan shut down all 50 of its nuclear power reactors. The disaster prompted a congressionally-mandated report from the National Academy of Sciences this July on preparing nuclear power plants for “beyond-design” disasters.

Nearly three and a half years later, the nuclear power plants remain shuttered. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been pressing to reopen the Sendai plant southwest of Tokyo, pending a month of public consultations starting this August. Such a move would end the nuclear shutdown, but it’s been met with fierce opposition from those who argue that the plant, located 30 miles from an active volcano, lies in a dangerous and earthquake-prone region.

View more of Miles coverage of Fukushima after the meltdown here.