The world's worst nuclear crisis after Chernobyl has come to an end with technicians at the crippled Fukushima plant in Japan having regained control of the reactors.
Prime minister Yoshihiko Noda of Japan said yesterday said that the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant had been stabilised, but acknowledged that work was not over yet.
''Today, we have reached a great milestone,'' Noda said in a televised address to the nation. ''The reactors are stable, which should resolve one big cause of concern for us all.''
With the declaration, which comes nine months following a calamitous earthquake and tsunami knocking off the plant, leading to a massive radiation leak, more evacuees may be encouraged to return to the affected areas.
But Noda's announcement, failed to impress some experts who said the news was premature, and an attempt to calm continuing public anger over the accident, as also to paper over remaining threats to the plant. According to the experts, the devastated plant remained vulnerable to large aftershocks, which could knock out the improvised cooling system that helped workers bring the reactors into a relatively stable state known as a ''cold shutdown.''
They added, the milestone of a cold shutdown, necessary before dismantling could get under way, held less significance than usual since the nuclear fuel at three of the plant's reactors had melted and some of it had apparently escaped the reactor vessels.