Plan to control nuclear crisis
The operator of the nuclear plant leaking radiation in northern Japan said it aims to bring the crisis under control within six to nine months.
Tokyo Electric Power Co chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata told a news conference that the company had come up with a phased plan to end the crisis and allow residents who have been evacuated from the area around the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant to return home.
He said that in the first three months, the company hopes to steadily reduce the level of leaking radiation. Three to six months after that it hopes to get the release of radioactive materials under control.
The plant was damaged by a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11.
"We sincerely apologise for causing troubles," Mr Katsumata said. "We are doing our utmost to prevent the crisis from further worsening."
Frustrations have been mounting over TEPCO's failure to resolve the nuclear crisis.
"We would like to see evacuees return to their homes as early as possible," Mr Katsumata said.
The company is focusing on cooling the reactors and spent fuel pools, cleaning water that has been contaminated by radiation, mitigating the release of radiation into the atmosphere and soil and measuring and reducing the amount of radiation effecting the evacuation area, he said.
TEPCO Vice President Sakae Muto said that in addition to covering the reactor buildings, the company will also work with authorities to decontaminate areas affected by the radiation.