Japan Nuclear Crisis Expected To Last Another Nine Months
It’s likely to be the end of the year but before the nuclear crisis in Japan is fully contained:
The operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has said it expects to bring the crisis under control by the end of the year.
Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) aims to reduce radiation leaks in three months and to cool the reactors within nine months.
The utility said it also plans to cover the reactor building, which was hit by a huge quake and tsunami on 11 March.
Nearly 14,000 people died and another 14,000 are still unaccounted for.
Tepco unveiled its roadmap as Hillary Clinton briefly visited Tokyo to pledge America’s “steadfast support” for Japan’s reconstruction.
Radiation levels in the sea near reactor 2 rose to 6,500 times the legal limit on Friday, up from 1,100 times a day earlier, Tepco has said, raising fears of fresh radiation leaks.
Tsunehisa Katsumata, the chairman of Tepco, Asia’s largest utility, told a news conference in Tokyo on Sunday they would need up to nine months to bring the power plant to ”cold shutdown”.
He said the plan would allow the tens of thousands of families evacuated from the area around the facility to return home as soon as possible.
“We sincerely apologise for causing troubles,” Mr Katsumata said. “We are doing our utmost to prevent the crisis from further worsening.”
Tepco said after cold shutdown it would focus on encasing the reactor buildings, cleaning up contaminated soil and removing nuclear fuel.
Japan’s government had ordered Tepco to come up with a timetable to end the crisis, now rated on a par with the world’s worst nuclear accident, the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
But the BBC’s Roland Buerk in Tokyo says it is still not certain that the nine-month deadline can be achieved.
And, of course, it’s unclear what the impact on the environment around the plant will be.