Japan May Announce Fukushima
Fukushima Nuclear Crisis
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Friday December 02, 2011
Japan may announce this month
that tsunami-damaged nuclear reactors in Fukushima are in a
The date of December 16,
reported in the Yomiuri newspaper, would be an important
milestone in the plan to bring under control the worst
nuclear accident in 25 years.
The Fukushima Daiichi plant, 240 km northeast of Tokyo,
was wrecked by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which
knocked out reactor cooling systems, causing meltdowns of
nuclear fuel rods.
A cold shutdown is when water
used to cool nuclear fuel rods remains below its boiling
point, preventing the fuel from reheating.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda
may declare a cold shutdown because a Nov. 30 analysis by
plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co showed that
temperatures for the nuclear fuel lying at the bottom of the
containment vessel have stabilised, the paper said.
Radiation levels at the
reactors have also fallen significantly, it said.
Declaring a cold shutdown
will have repercussions well beyond the plant as it is one
of the criteria the government has said must be met before
it begins allowing 80,000 residents evacuated from within a
20 km (12 mile) radius of the plant to return home.
But even if a cold shutdown
is declared, Tokyo Electric has acknowledged before that it
may be unable to remove the fuel from the reactors for
another 10 years, and experts say the cleanup at the plant
could take several decades.