Japan’s Prime Minister Declares Fukushima Plant Stable – More UpdatesFeatured, NWO Sunday, December 18th, 2011
Japan’s Prime Minister Declares Fukushima Plant Stable
TOKYO — Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda of Japan has declared an end to the world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl, saying technicians have regained control of reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
“Today, we have reached a great milestone,” Mr. Noda said in a televised address to the nation. “The reactors are stable, which should resolve one big cause of concern for us all.”
The declaration, nine months after a calamitous earthquake and tsunami set off a huge radiation leak, could set the stage for the return of more evacuees to affected areas.
But even before Mr. Noda’s announcement, some experts called the news premature, an attempt to quell continuing public anger over the accident and paper over remaining threats to the plant. The experts argue that the devastated plant remains vulnerable to large aftershocks, which could knock out the jury-rigged cooling system that helped workers bring the reactors into a relatively stable state known as a “cold shutdown.”
They also say the milestone of a cold shutdown, necessary before dismantling can begin, means less than usual because the nuclear fuel at three of the plant’s reactors has melted and some of it has apparently escaped the reactor vessels. That means that removing the fuel from the reactors, always a delicate process, will be much harder and more time-consuming.
Cold shutdown “is a term that has been trotted out to give the impression we are reaching some sort of closure,” said Hiroaki Koide, assistant professor at the Research Reactor Institute at Kyoto University and a prominent critic of nuclear power. “We still face a long battle of epic proportions, and by the time it is really over, most of us will be long dead.”
The government says dismantling the plant will take at least four decades.
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