The Environmental Radioactivity Monitoring Center of Fukushima in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, was used as a base to monitor the radiation dosage in the area when the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant was unfolding, from March 11-14, 2011, and has been left as is since. (Yosuke Fukudome)

OKUMA, Fukushima Prefecture--As if frozen in time, unerased chalkboards still carry the scribblings of emergency officials closely monitoring the catastrophic nuclear disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

A whiteboard carries the poignant communications between an emergency headquarters of the Fukushima prefectural government and teams working outside at the moment a hydrogen explosion blew apart the No. 3 reactor building on March 14, 2011.

“Stop monitoring, evacuate now,” an order said.

The next line follows, “1F3 (No. 3 reactor of Fukushima No. 1 plant) hydrogen explosion.”

“Don’t return here, head west,” another directive said.

Media representatives were invited on Nov. 8 for the first time to the emergency headquarters that was set up at the prefecture-run Environmental Radioactivity Monitoring Center of Fukushima here to monitor the radiation levels around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant when a massive tsunami crippled the power supply on March 11, 2011.

The center was originally constructed as a facility to monitor radiation levels in the area as well as serve as an education center for nuclear power generation.

The headquarters were abandoned on the night of March 14, 2011, after the evacuation order was issued following the explosion at the No. 3 reactor building. No one since then has returned to use or tidy up the site.

During the emergency, the center, which sits about 4 kilometers west of the nuclear plant on the border of the towns of Okuma and Futaba, served as the base for staff from the prefectural and central governments monitoring radiation levels around the plant.

On a blackboard, readings remain of radiation dosages at various locations around the plant on March 12, 2011, taken about six and a half hours before a hydrogen explosion ripped through the No. 1 reactor building.

One spot recorded a reading of 15 microsieverts per hour, showing that radioactive particles were already leaking from the plant at the time.

The media invitation to the center was part of the prefecture’s project to collect and preserve documentation and memories of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

A team from Fukushima University was also at the headquarters checking the radiation levels inside the building, ahead of collecting materials.

The collection will be preserved and displayed at an education facility under construction in Futaba, scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2020.