Photo/IllutrationStudents from Fukushima High School view the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant during a tour aboard a bus on Nov. 18. The No. 1 reactor building is in the background. (Chikako Kawahara)

OKUMA, Fukushima Prefecture--It was no ordinary outing for the 13 students from Fukushima High School.

The teenagers toured the site of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant by bus on Nov. 18 to get a firsthand look at work to decommission the reactors following the triple meltdown in 2011.

It was the first tour by youngsters since the disaster as plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. had deemed the radiation risk was too high.

Through bus windows, the students observed the damaged reactor buildings, rows of storage tanks holding contaminated water and other facilities on the sprawling nuclear complex.

“The tour made me realize that we should arm ourselves with accurate information if we want to change people’s perceptions of Fukushima as a scary place,” said Keika Kobiyama, a first-year student in the group. “For starters, I want to tell my fellow high school students ‘We went to the plant to see for ourselves what was going on there.’”

TEPCO had previously refused to allow tours by those under the age of 18.

But the company gave the green light to this request as an exception on grounds that radiation levels had dropped significantly.

The students were each given a dosimeter as they boarded the bus for the two-hour tour. The trip was held after their parents agreed to the visit.

The students themselves had been releasing updates on the disaster for Japanese and foreign audiences by monitoring radiation levels in the prefecture and studying the decommissioning process.