But Reuters reported yesterday:
“I think maybe the situation is much more serious than we were led to believe,” said one expert, Najmedin Meshkati, of the University of Southern California, adding it may take weeks to stabilise the situation and the United Nations should step in.
“This is far beyond what one nation can handle – it needs to be bumped up to the U.N. Security Council. In my humble opinion, this is more important than the Libya no fly zone.”
Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. has conceded it faces a protracted and uncertain operation to contain overheating fuel rods and avert a meltdown.
“Regrettably, we don’t have a concrete schedule at the moment to enable us to say in how many months or years (the crisis will be over),” TEPCO vice-president Sakae Muto said in the latest of round-the-clock briefings the company holds.
And the New York Times points out today:
In an admission of how long the cooling process may take, Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director general of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, Japan’s nuclear regulator, said late Tuesday: “We will have to continue cooling for quite a long period. We should be thinking years.”
Kuni Yogo, a former atomic energy policy planner in the Japan Science and Technology Agency, said: “There is some trial and error, but this is the beginning of a three- to five-year effort.”
Of course, if all goes well, the reactor cores and spent fuel rods should cool down considerably over the next couple of months. But the fact that the Japanese might need to sustain the cooling effort for years on end is stunning.