TOKYO — The operator of the nuclear plant leaking radiation in northern Japan says it aims to bring the crisis under control within six to nine months.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata told a news conference Sunday that the company had come up with a phased plan to end the crisis and allow residents who have been evacuated from the area around the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant to return home.

He said that in the first three months, the company hopes to steadily reduce the level of leaking radiation. Three to six months after that it hopes to get the release of radioactive materials under control.

The plant was damaged by a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11. (AP)