The results of the 2011-12 SEJ Awards for reporting on the environment
“Japan’s Nuclear Refugees”
From the judges: The judges were impressed with David Guttenfelder’s ability to capture and compose compelling snippets of the desolation near the  Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster. It is no accident that one gets the sense that Guttenfelder was the only photojournalist — or even person — in the vicinity as he courageously evaded security barriers and sneaked into areas that were declared off limits. National Geographic’s supporting letter asserts that no other photographer “took the risk to document in such depth this tragedy of exile and abandonment.” Guttenfelder admirably demonstrates the reward of taking such risks.
- Photo 1: After the March 11 disasters in Japan: tens of thousands were ordered from their homes, their footprints now frozen in the mud.
- Photo 2: Dogs scrap on Okuma’s empty streets. Defying blockades, volunteers rounded up and decontaminated pets, returning them to owners.
- Photo 3: In a gym in Hirono, residents in protective suits are briefed before being escorted to their abandoned homes for a June 8 visit.
- Photo 4: In Koriyama, Nobuko Sanpei, 74, eats dinner in her cardboard box home. “I was sweltering so I cut out a hole,” she said.
- Photo 5: People weren’t the only refugees. In Japan’s exclusion zone, an abandoned cat makes its home inside a laundromat dryer.