Engineers will need up to nine months to fully shut down the damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the scene of the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl, its owners announced Sunday.
It would take three months to bring down radiation levels and restore normal cooling systems at the plant, Tsunehisa Katsumata, the chairman of the Tokyo Electric Power Co., told reporters.
An additional three to six months would be needed before the reactors reach their cold shutdown point, he said.
The plan announced Sunday is the first timetable that Tokyo Electric has disclosed for reining in the crisis at Fukushima Daiichi, which was swamped by the tsunami that followed Japan's March 11 earthquake.
It comes five days after Prime Minister Naoto Kan called for Tokyo Electric to develop a timeline for bringing the disaster to an end.