News FocusTohoku-Oki Earthquake

Crippled Reactors to Get Cooled and Wrapped

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Science  20 May 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6032, pp. 910
DOI: 10.1126/science.332.6032.910

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The crisis at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant may have faded from the headlines, but it's far from over. To cope with the loss of reactor cooling systems knocked out by the 11 March earthquake and tsunami, the plant's owner, Tokyo Electric Power Co., has installed jury-rigged cooling setups that have cut radiation emissions dramatically. But some 100,000 residents who were evacuated will not return home until the reactors are firmly under control. Last month, Tokyo Electric unveiled a two-stage plan to build more robust cooling systems and reduce radiation leaks within 3 months, then, 3 to 6 months later, achieve a cold shutdown in which fuel is cooled by water below the boiling point at atmospheric pressure.