The Fukushima disaster still looms in Japan years after the earthquake

As Japan assesses the damage from Monday’s major earthquake, it is still dealing with the devastating nuclear crisis triggered by an earthquake nearly 13 years ago that put Fukushima’s name on par with Chernobyl and traumatized the nation.

In March 2011, an 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan’s northeast coast and knocked out the cooling systems of three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, triggering a triple meltdown that revealed fallout radioactive over large areas of land around it.

The earthquake and tsunami killed more than 19,000 people and the nuclear disaster, one of the worst in history, raised alarm around the world. Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from the cities and farming villages around the plant, and ten years later some still had not returned.

Last summer, the government announced it would begin releasing the treated water into the ocean. The International Atomic Energy Agency said the government’s plan met the agency’s safety standards, but it still raised objections from some scientists, anxiety among fishermen who feared it would hurt their business and tensions with the Chinese and South Korean governments.

All of Japan’s nuclear reactors were shut down after the 2011 crisis and much of its nuclear power program remains shuttered.