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article imageJapan nuclear cleanup could take ‘several decades’ PM Kan says

By Lynn Herrmann     Jul 9, 2011 in Environment
Tokyo - The Japanese government announced on Saturday it will take years, possibly “several decades,” to clean up the disaster caused by the nuclear meltdown at Fukushima’s Daiichi facility, on track at becoming the worst nuclear accident in history.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan told a group of local officials in the Democratic Party on Saturday the Fukushima disaster is a long-term affair. “It will take three, five, ten years, or eventually several decades to take care of the accident,” he said, Reuters reports.
Approaching the four-month anniversary of Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami which hit northeast Japan, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has yet to bring the disaster under control.
Several hydrogen explosions at the Daiicihi nuclear facility in the days after the tsunami struck released radioactive debris over a large area, forcing around 80,000 people to leave the evacuation zone around the plant.
Kan, under extreme pressure to resign over his attempts at handling one of the world’s worst nuclear accidents, has announced he will do so, but has yet to announce a date. He claims it is his responsibility to stay on until initial recovery work is complete and legislation associated with the accident has been voted on.
TEPCO announced Saturday a nitrogen-injection process for the No.3 reactor at Daiichi as soon as it receives approval from the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency as well as from local governments. The nitrogen injection will be done to prevent further hydrogen explosions.
The utility company plans to reach cold shutdown of the Daiichi facility once it has stabilized cooling at the plant.
Reports earlier this week revealed the Fukushima region has experienced an increase in suicide rates since the meltdown occurred, as people continue efforts at coping with the catastrophe. Uncertainty over living conditions, including temporary shelters and community-based living arrangements, along with feelings of guilt, have led to the increase.
The country saw a 2-year high in suicides during the month of May, Japan’s National Police Agency said in a report. In May, the Fukushima region saw 68 suicides, 19 more than during the same month in 2010.
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