Efforts to stabilize Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, crippled by a March tsunami which triggered a nuclear crisis, are running ahead of schedule, according to the president of the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which operates the plant.
Toshio Nishizawa told CNN Monday he hopes to achieve the second phase of the shutdown before a January deadline.
"I cannot promise you, but if things go smoothly with careful control, it is possible to bring the cold shutdown forward," said Nishizawa.
Cold shutdown requires a stable winding down of the operations of the reactors at a temperature under 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit).
Cooling systems at Fukushima Daiichi, about 240 kilometers (150 miles) north of Tokyo, were knocked out by the tsunami which followed a massive earthquake March 11.
The disaster triggered the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl, as the cores of reactors 1-3 overheated and spewed huge amounts of radioactive contamination across the surrounding area. more