The nuclear crisis that has gripped Japan is ending, according to the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which owns the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant, source of much radiation and concern in recent weeks following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that resulted in more than 25,000 people dead or missing. The power company insisted that its workers were still on schedule to bring the power plant to stability and shutdown by January.
The assertions by TEPCO come on the heels of a report that thousands of tons of highly radioactive wastewater was found in the basement of the nuclear reactor that was the source of so much concern several weeks ago. First, it was the walls surrounding the reactor that blew in an explosion; then, it was the cooling system, knocked out by the earthquake, leading to efforts to keep the fuel rods cool by dumping water from on high. Despite furious efforts from workers at the damaged plant (including well publicized visits by robots), the situation is still grave enough to prompt a visit from the International Atomic Energy Agency, representatives of which will visit Japan next week. Nuclear power plant workers will use hoses to transfer the radioactive wastewater to a waste disposal facility.
The Japanese government, meanwhile, announced a review of economic and energy policies, with an eye toward attempting to minimize expected losses in domestic and international markets as a result of the widespread devastation caused by the twin disasters.
Whole houses, factories, and towns were wiped off the math by the sprawling tsunami, and the result in many instances has been disruption in economic supply lines. All of the large Japanese automakers have reported a drop in supply (leading one U.S. observer to predict that Japanese automobiles or auto parts would be so scarce in America in the short term that customers looking to buy new would look elsewhere, namely in their home country). The number of units of lost production is an estimated 1.66 million, according to a major economic report.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan recently announced that the government would pursue strategies of conservation and renewables while reducing dependence on nuclear power for generation of electricity. The breakdown of security at the Fukushima plant has spooked not only Japan but also other countries, with Germany leading efforts in Europe to move away from nuclear energy entirely.