Workers at Japan's embattled Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant shut down a water recycling system after just a few hours.
Claiming a limited success, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), owner of the nuclear plant, said that close to 2,000 tons of water had been pumped into the plant in order to cool the reactors and that the water operation was shut down when workers noticed leaks. No new leaks were reported outside the plant, however.
Workers will restart the water recycling system once the leaks are fixed and will continue to pursue stopgap measures on the way toward the goal of a cold shutdown by January.
The plant has been beset by difficulties since the March 11 earthquake and resulting tsunami, which caused fires, explosions, and leaks and resulted in the government's ordering evacuation for tens of thousands of people in a wide radius around the reactors. Many of those people are still living in temporary shelters. TEPCO recently announced a payout of an estimated 88 billion yen ($1 billion) to people who left their homes in the wake of radiation leaks at the plant.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan continues to apologize for his government's handling of the crisis while also continuing to survive no-confidence votes in the Diet, the Japanese parliament. Kan has agreed to resign once the Diet approves key legislation for reconstruction. Kan, a onetime environmental campaigner, has also called for a renewed focus on renewable energy sources.