TOKYO, Dec 16 (Reuters) – Japan declared its tsunami-stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant to be in cold shutdown on Friday, taking a major step to resolving the world’s worst nuclear crisis in 25 years but some critics questioned whether the plant was really under control.
The Fukushima Daiichi plant, 240 km (150 miles) northeast of Tokyo, was wrecked on March 11 by a huge earthquake and a towering tsunami which knocked out its cooling systems, triggering meltdowns, radiation leaks and mass evacuations.
In making the much-anticipated announcement, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda tried to draw a line under the most acute phase of the crisis and highlighted the next challenges: the clean-up and the safe dismantling of the plant, something the government says may take more than 30 years.
“The reactors have reached a state of cold shutdown,” Noda told a government nuclear emergency response meeting.
“A stable condition has been achieved,” he added, noting radiation levels at the boundary of the plant could now be kept at low levels, even in the event of “unforeseeable incidents.”
See NEI’s post that explains the difference between “cold shutdown condition,” which is what happened at Fukushima, and the normal process of “cold shutdown.”