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Japan Says the Worst Is Over, but Fukushima Faces Long Road to Recovery via Time

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced in a televised address on Friday that the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant has officially reached a state of ‘cold shutdown,’ bringing the most urgent phase of the world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl to an end nine months after an earthquake and tsunami struck the plant on March 11.

According to Tokyo Electric Power Co., the massive utility that operates the embattled plant, temperatures inside reactors one, two and three, all of which suffered meltdowns after their cooling systems went offline in the twin disasters, now range from between 38C to 68C, and radiation is no longer leaking at the perimeter of the plant. Cold shutdown, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, is reached when “the reactor pressure vessel’s temperature is less than 100C, the release of radioactive materials from the primary containment vessel is under control and public radiation exposure by additional release is being significantly held down.”

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