Japan may announce Fukushima cold shutdown on Dec. 16: Yomiuri
(Reuters) - Japan may announce on December 16 that tsunami-damaged nuclear reactors in Fukushima are in a cold shutdown, the Yomiuri newspaper reported on Friday, an important milestone in its plan to bring under control the worst nuclear accident in 25 years.
The Fukushima Daiichi plant, 240 km (150 miles) northeast of Tokyo, was wrecked by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which knocked out reactor cooling systems, causing meltdowns of nuclear fuel rods.
A cold shutdown is when water used to cool nuclear fuel rods remains below its boiling point, preventing the fuel from reheating.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda may declare a cold shutdown because a November 30 analysis by plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co showed that temperatures for the nuclear fuel lying at the bottom of the containment vessel have stabilized, the paper said.
Radiation levels at the reactors have also fallen significantly, it said.
Declaring a cold shutdown will have repercussions well beyond the plant as it is one of the criteria the government has said must be met before it begins allowing 80,000 residents evacuated from within a 20 km (12 mile) radius of the plant to return home.
But even if a cold shutdown is declared, Tokyo Electric has acknowledged before that it may be unable to remove the fuel from the reactors for another 10 years, and experts say the cleanup at the plant could take several decades.
Japan's oldest person, 115-year-old Chiyono Hasegawa, dies
TOKYO — Japan's oldest person, 115-year-old Chiyono Hasegawa, has died. Hasegawa, who was born Nov. 20, 1896, died at a facility in southern Japan on Friday. The facility where Hasegawa died confirmed her death, but declined to give further details. ...
TOKYO — Japan's Honda Motor is recalling more than 300,000 cars worldwide, including models of the popular Accord and Civic, because of a defect in the driver's airbag, the company said Friday.
In the worst case scenario, the gas container which inflates the airbag during an accident could break and send fragments of the safety device scattering, the company said in a statement.
The automaker will recall 304,035 units of 10 models manufactured in 2001 and 2002, it said.
Some 300,000 of the cars under recall were sold in the United States and Canada, Honda said, while the remainder were sold in Japan and other regions.
The company said it will replace the defective inflator with a new one in the recalled cars.
Honda said the latest recall was an extension of previous ones issued between 2008 and 2010, covering about 950,000 vehicles.
Japan's car giants have carried out millions of recalls in the past year and a half as they have become more proactive about dealing with faults.
Fellow Japanese automaker Toyota, previously lauded for its safety standards, became mired in crisis when it recalled nearly nine million vehicles between late 2009 and February 2010 due to brake and accelerator defects.