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Operator Pledges To End Japan Nuclear Crisis Within Nine Months


Fire and smoke billow on April 12 at a building for sampling seawater near the No.4 reactor of TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata says the company has a plan to bring the crippled nuclear power plant at the northeastern city of Fukushima under control within six to nine months.

TEPCO should be able to restore the cooling system at Fukushima within three months, he says, which should reduce the amount of radioactivity leaking from the plant. Within three to six months after that, TEPCO hopes to stop the radiation leak entirely.

The news came as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Japan in a sign of support for a U.S. ally struggling to cope with the aftermath of a devastating earthquake and tsunami. Clinton renewed the Obama administration's commitment to do its utmost to assist rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of the tragedy, which has killed up to 28,000 people, crippled the Fukushima nuclear plant, and hobbled the world's third-largest economy.

A strong earthquake on March 11 triggered a tsunami that flooded the Fukushima Daiichi plant, knocking out the cooling system and backup power and damaging the nuclear reactors. Further quakes and major aftershocks have followed.

The area around the plant was evacuated as explosions and problems with the cooling system led to harmful releases of radiation that TEPCO has struggled to contain.

The disaster has been assigned the highest ranking of 7 on an international scale of the severity of incidents involving nuclear safety.

compiled from agency reports