Japan Reactor's Spent Fuel Storage Heating Up
Nuclear safety agency official Hidehiko Nishiyama told reporters Tuesday that the high temperatures in the spent fuel pool are believed to be the cause of steam that has wafted from Fukushima Daiichi's Unit 2 since Monday.
The hot storage pool is another complication in bringing the plant under control and ending a nuclear crisis that followed the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated the country's northeast coast.
If water in the pool bubbles away and exposes fuel rods, more radiation would be thrown off.
To date, more than 9,000 people are known to have been killed by the earthquake and tsunami, Japanese police said Tuesday.
The overall number of bodies collected so far is 9,079, police said. Another 12,645 people are missing. Officials expect the death toll will eventually top 18,000, with as many as 15,000 people estimated to have died in the hard-hit Miyagi prefecture alone. The disasters have displaced another 452,000, who are in shelters.
The updated figures came as the country grappled with the effects of the damage caused to the Fukushima nuclear plant. Efforts to stabilize the plant continued, while officials banned the sale of food that came from areas around Fukushima.