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Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda

“Today, we have reached a great milestone. The reactors are stable, which should resolve one big cause of concern for us all.”

YOSHIHIKO NODA, the Prime Minister of Japan, talking about the damaged Fukushima nuclear reactors in a press conference. Noda declared an end to the nuclear disaster—more than nine months after an earthquake and tsunami ruined the nuclear plants, leading to a meltdown—but other experts aren’t so sure. More than 160,000 people from the area are still displaced, and many of them refuse to go home despite the end of official evacuation orders. While Tokyo Electric Power says the reactors are now in “cold shutdown,” some worry that the fuel could have contaminated groundwater—or that it may even reignite.

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