Fukushima nuclear plant now stable, Japan says

Operator TEPCO has completed construction of this cover on the Unit 1 reactor at Fukushima.

Video screenshot by Tim Hornyak/CNET)

TOKYO–The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has finally been stabilized after it was crippled by a tsunami in March, the Japanese government said yesterday.

Engineers working under operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) have brought the plant to a state of “cold shutdown,” meaning the reactors can be safely kept cool and that radiation exposure is limited to 1 millisievert per year at the site’s boundary.

“We are now moving from trying to stabilize the reactors to decommissioning them,” Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told reporters, emphasizing the importance of the achievement.

“This is a challenge to not only our nation, but also the whole of humanity. I believe there will come a day when Fukushima will be remembered as the place where our future was founded by the bravery, the commitment, and resourcefulness of all our people.”

Explosions occurred at four of the six reactors when cooling systems failed. They released massive amounts of radiation into the environment, forcing the evacuation of an estimated 88,000 people from a zone roughly 150 miles north of Tokyo.

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