As reported by the New York Times, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, in a nationally televised address last week, declared that the four destroyed units at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have been brought under control, and "cold shutdown" will be achieved by year's end, ending a catastrophic chapter in Japan's history. However, critics warn that the decommissioning and "clean up" of the site could take 40 years, and that nuclear criticality in the melted cores is still a risk. Noda's announcement comes with an "all clear" from federal, prefectural, and local authorities for many of the 90,000 nuclear evacuees to return to their homes for the first time in nine months, but many of them question such assurances, and people across Japan still fear the documented radioactive contamination of the food supply.
Meanwhile, the Mainichi Daily News reports that a journalist, Tomohiko Suzuki, worked undercover inside the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant for over a month this summer, and now reports that "absolutely no progress is being made," that rushed work is often shoddy and done for cosmetic, not safety purposes, and that major short cuts are being taken on such vital activities as decontaminating vast quantities of cooling water highly contaminated with radioactivity. Suzuki quotes one worker as saying "Working at Fukushima is equivalent to being given an order to die," and reports that many games are being played to under-report actually radiation doses being suffered by workers.
The article reports: " '(Nuclear) technology experts I've spoken to say that there are people living in areas where no one should be. It's almost as though they're living inside a nuclear plant,' says Suzuki. Based on this and his own radiation readings, he believes the 80-kilometer-radius evacuation advisory issued by the United States government after the meltdowns was "about right," adding that the government probably decided on the current no-go zones to avoid the immense task of evacuating larger cities like Iwaki and Fukushima." (emphasis added)