Japanese government declares ‘cold shutdown’ at Fukushima nuclear plantDecember 16th, 2011 - 9:16 pm ICT by BNO News
TOKYO (BNO NEWS) — The Japanese government on Friday announced it has successfully stabilized the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in a state of ‘cold shutdown’, more than nine months after the nuclear crisis began.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda held a news conference on Friday morning to confirm workers have achieved a cold shutdown at the plant, meaning its coolant system is at atmospheric pressure and at a temperature below 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit).
“The cooling water circulates in a stable manner, and the temperatures at the bottom of the reactors and inside the containment vessel are staying below 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit),” Noda said. “Even in the event of an accident, radiation levels at the core of the plant can be maintained low. This was confirmed by experts. [Today's] meeting confirmed that the reactors have achieved a state of cold shutdown. The accident is now under control.”
The achievement of a cold shutdown marks an important milestone and finishes the second phase of a plan to completely decommission the plant, which can take up to 30 years. It also leads the way to reduce the evacuation zones, which is currently set at a 20-kilometer (12.4-mile) radius around the plant.
Yukiya Amano, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), welcomed Friday’s announcement. “Overall, TEPCO and the Japanese government have made significant progress and have completed the second step of the TEPCO’s roadmap by the end of the year as they had planned,” he said.
Nonetheless, the nuclear disaster has already released a massive amount of radioactive substances into the environment, making it the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl. In addition, major concerns will likely remain for months or years to come as the stricken nuclear reactor buildings will continue to house the melted fuels left inside.
Japan has been facing an ongoing nuclear crisis since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which is operated by the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco), was severely damaged on March 11 when a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and a subsequent tsunami devastated the country. The disaster disabled the cooling systems of the plant and radioactive elements leaked into the sea and were later found in water, air and food products in some parts of the country.
At least 15,839 people were killed as a result of the earthquake and tsunami while 3,642 others remain missing. There are still tens of thousands of people who are staying in shelters in 21 prefectures across Japan.
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- Fukushima n-plant operator confirms fuel meltdown - May 24, 2011
- Workers enter Fukushima's no.1 reactor for the first time since the earthquake and tsunami - May 05, 2011
- Japan resumes cooling operations at quake-hit nuke plant - Mar 21, 2011
- Condition at Fukushima n-plant improving: Japan (Second Intro Roundup) - Mar 20, 2011
- Outflow of highly radioactive water from Japan n-plant stops (Lead) - Apr 06, 2011
- Japanese Government criticizes nuke plant operator for lacking transparency - Mar 27, 2011
- TEPCO President apologises for Fukushima emergency - Apr 13, 2011
- Meltdown may have occurred in two nuke reactors: Japanese Government - Mar 13, 2011
- The day that shook Japan - Mar 11, 2012
- Complications arise in radioactive water removal at Japan's Fukushima nuke plant - Mar 31, 2011
- TEPCO eyes removal of 60,000 tons of radioactive water from Fukushima nuke plant - Apr 05, 2011
- TEPCO to cleanup radioactive debris from n-plant by July - Apr 25, 2011
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