There is now some reason to think that the situation in Japan has stabilized. According to Bloomberg,
Japan’s efforts to cool reactors at the crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant had some success, with reports two of the six reactors are under control and a second electric cable has been connected to the station.
Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator, declared Units 5 and 6 safe after cooling water pumped into them reduced temperatures, the Associated Press reported. An electric cable was hooked up to the No. 5 reactor, Kyodo News said, also citing Tepco.
U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the Obama administration believes the worst of the crisis is over. Unit 2, where Tepco connected a 1.5-kilometer (1 mile) power cable March 18 as it tried to revive cooling systems knocked out by the magnitude-9 temblor and tsunami, is the main source of concern, Chu said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program.
Besides being really smart (“he has a Nobel prize and knows how to use it”), Chu has much better information sources than we do, so I take some comfort from his view.
But it will be some time before the situation is brought completely under control and the damage is assessed, so we shouldn’t be too complacent. After the crisis, we can also begin to assess the larger implications for existing U.S. plants and for plans to build new reactors.