Japan PM declares ‘cold shutdown’ at Fukushima ࢀŽ

Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said the Fukushima nuclear reactors have been brought to a state of cold shutdown, a disputed milestone that will likely allow the return of some evacuees and eventual dismantling of the plant.

Reuters reports the declaration as a major step toward resolving the world’s worst nuclear crisis in 25 years.

“A stable condition has been achieved, and we can consider the accident itself contained,” Noda said.

In making the much-anticipated announcement, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda drew a line under the crisis phase of the emergency at the plant and highlighted the next challenges: post-disaster clean-up and the safe dismantling of the plant, something experts say could take up to 40 years.

“Cold shutdown describes a reactor’s cooling system operating at atmospheric pressure and below 93 degrees Celsius (200 degrees Fahrenheit), according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The utility has released data showing it meets these criteria at Fukushima.

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