U.S. Ends Emergency Japan Watch, Says Reactors Stabilizing

May 16 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will end its emergency 24-hour monitoring of the reactor crisis in Japan because the situation is “slowly stabilizing,” the agency said.

“As conditions have continued to improve and the Japanese continue to implement their recovery plan, the NRC has determined that it is time to adjust our response,” Bill Borchardt, the NRC’s executive director for operations, said today in a statement on the agency’s website. The NRC still has staff working in Japan, according to the statement.

A March 11 earthquake and tsunami destroyed power lines and flooded diesel generators at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant, depriving its cooling systems of electricity. Fuel rods in four of the plant’s six reactor buildings overheated, causing fires, explosions and radiation leaks in the world’s worst nuclear incident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

The Rockville, Maryland-based regulator, which set up a operations center when the disaster began, “is now operating in its usual manner,” Scott Burnell, a spokesman, said in an e-mail.

To contact the reporter on this story: Simon Lomax in Washington at slomax@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Liebert at lliebert@bloomberg.net