Some good news out of Japan.
Officials say that the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has been stabilized and that workers are on pace to achieve a cold shutdown within six months, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The plant was damaged more than four months ago when a tsunami disabled the plant’s cooling systems, and emergency workers have struggled since then to bring the plant’s reactors under control.
In recent weeks engineers found success with an improvised system that circulates water to cool the four damaged reactors while also decontaminating radioactive water.
News of the stabilization is certainly a significant development, but it could still take decades before the power plant can be shut down completely and encased in concrete, as planned. “We still don’t have a schedule for the work to decommission this plant, and that’s planning that we have to do right now,” said Goshi Hosono, the cabinet official responsible for the nuclear cleanup.
Officials say that it could take several more months before they decide whether the 80,000 people who were evacuated from the area surrounding the plant will be able to return to their homes.
"During the time that I've been involved in this effort, we've encountered every kind of difficulty, so I don't think we have room to be optimistic," Hosono said