Nuclear reactor's temperature falls below boiling, shutdown possible

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said the last of three damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has fallen below the boiling point, bringing the plant closer to cold shutdown by the end of the year.

Reuters reported the temperature inside Unit 2 fell to 210.9 F September 28, below the 212 F necessary for cold shutdown. Temperatures in units 1 and 3 read 186 F and 205.5 F, respectively, on September 7.

TEPCO said it would not declare a cold shutdown until other criteria are met. TEPCO originally planned to shut the plant down by January 2012 but said it may be on track to complete it by the end of 2011.

An earthquake and tsunami in March knocked out cooling systems and caused meltdowns of nuclear fuel rods in the three reactors.

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