<p class="MsoNormal"><em>This story is part of a </em><a href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy" target="_blank"><em>special series</em></a><em> that explores energy issues. For more, visit <a href="http://www.greatenergychallenge.com/" target="_blank">The Great Energy Challenge</a></em>.</p> <p><strong>Their faces obscured by breathing masks, workers pore over data in the control room for the now-ruined Unit 1 and Unit 2 reactors at </strong><strong><a href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/japan-guide/">Japan</a>'s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on Wednesday.</strong></p><strong> </strong> <p>Although some power has now been restored to the facility, the workers known as the Fukushima 50 face a difficult job getting pumps and circuits to operate the crucial systems that provide cooling for the reactors and the spent fuel stored on site.</p> <p>The photos released by Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency are the first look inside the plant since the devastating March 11 <a href="http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/natural-disasters/earthquake-profile/">earthquake</a> and <a href="http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/natural-disasters/tsunami-profile/">tsunami</a> that flooded the facility and crippled the backup generators needed to cool the radioactive fuel.</p> <p>(Related: <a href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2011/03/110323-fukushima-japan-new-nuclear-plant-design/">"Would a New Nuclear Plant Fare Better than Fukushima?"</a>)</p> <p><em>—Marianne Lavelle</em></p>

A Search for Answers

This story is part of a special series that explores energy issues. For more, visit The Great Energy Challenge.

Their faces obscured by breathing masks, workers pore over data in the control room for the now-ruined Unit 1 and Unit 2 reactors at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on Wednesday.

Although some power has now been restored to the facility, the workers known as the Fukushima 50 face a difficult job getting pumps and circuits to operate the crucial systems that provide cooling for the reactors and the spent fuel stored on site.

The photos released by Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency are the first look inside the plant since the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami that flooded the facility and crippled the backup generators needed to cool the radioactive fuel.

(Related: "Would a New Nuclear Plant Fare Better than Fukushima?")

—Marianne Lavelle

Photograph from Japan Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency via AP

Pictures: A Rare Look Inside Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant

Photographs from inside the Fukushima Daiichi power plant show workers as they struggle, amid peril, to stabilize the damaged reactors.

Read This Next

Zapping: The boisterous protest tactic that ignited early LGBTQ activism

Appalachia's wild rat is mysteriously disappearing—but the pandemic offered hope

There’s a new ocean now—can you name all 5?

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet