"The nuclear accident in Japan has rekindled debate about what to do with used reactor fuel.
The Japanese power plant housed tons of highly radioactive used fuel in pools filled with water. Some of that water either leaked out or boiled away during the accident, putting that fuel at risk of burning and releasing radioactive material. With similar fuel pools at more than 60 reactor sites in the U.S., there's renewed interest in their safety.
The uranium fuel in the core of a nuclear reactor creates heat and power for about five to 10 years. Plant operators then transfer the used fuel rods, which are still hot and radioactive, to a nearby pool. In Japan, the pools lost cooling water, the fuel overheated and was probably damaged."
Christopher Joyce reports for NPR's Morning Edition April 7, 2011.