TEPCO said it remains on target to bring reactors to a safe state of cold shutdown by January at the latest now that a water circulation system has been established.
TEPCO said it had met three-month goals forming a plan to make the plant safe and it will now move on to the second stage of the plan, which involves further reduction of radiation levels.
The government added that the utility hopes to remove spent fuel within three years of achieving cold shutdown, which is the point where reactor water temperatures fall below boiling point and cease releasing radioactive steam.
“We are now at the point to enter the second step,” Prime Minister Naoto Kan told the Diet. “We are starting to see a tremendously critical condition heading towards a certain level of settlement.”
But, environmental group Greenpeace International slammed the claims of moving toward safety.
“The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis is not under control — TEPCO and the government have failed to meet several of the plan’s objectives by rushing to meet formal deadlines and give the impression of normality, instead of accepting that this nuclear crisis will take decades,” said Jan Beránek, the Head of Greenpeace International’s nuclear campaign said in response to the announcement that the first phase of dealing with the crisis was over. “Ongoing problems with contaminated water and reactor stability are not over and current levels of radiation measurement, as well as information transparency are completely inadequate.”
Beránek continued: “The government must focus on ensuring that people are properly protected from increased levels of radioactive exposure in contaminated areas, even those lying well beyond current evacuation zones, such as the city of Fukushima. People need to be given clear information and adequate support to allow them to either evacuate or limit their exposure to radiation.
“Families with children or pregnant women need to be moved to safer places, while widespread, systematic and transparent farm produce and seafood monitoring must be set in motion to avoid further internal exposure from contaminated food, even in areas that seem far from the Fukushima Daiichi reactors.” (Combined with wire reports)