Japan N-firm sees ‘cold shutdown’ in 6-9 months

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TOKYO – The operator of Japan’s tsunami-hit nuclear plant said Sunday it aims to reduce radiation leaks within three months and to achieve a “cold shutdown” within six to nine months. Japan’s embattled Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) offered the timeline more than five weeks after a giant quake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems at its six-reactor Fukushima Daiichi atomic power station.
The damage sent atomic core temperatures soaring in partial fuel rod meltdowns, in what became the world’s worst nuclear crisis in 25 years. It has also left the country facing crippling power shortages. Radiation has leaked into the air, soil and sea from the coastal plant northeast of Tokyo, as emergency crews have doused overheating reactors and fuel rod pools to prevent full meltdowns of volatile fuel rods.
TEPCO’s chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata said at a press conference that the utility aims to cool reactors and start substantially reducing radiation from the explosion-charred facilities within three months.