- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Emergency crews Tuesday hooked up electrical lines to a crippled nuclear power plant but delayed restoring power until checking for damage to the cooling units in the six reactors.

“We need more time. It’s too early to say that they are sufficiently stable,” said Sakae Muto, vice president of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which owns the Dai-ichi nuclear complex about 150 miles northeast of the Japanese capital.

Checking for damage to the cooling units could take days or even weeks, TEPCO officials said.

A massive tsunami spawned by the worst earthquake to hit Japan knocked out the cooling units March 11, causing the nuclear reactors to overheat and spreading panic after explosions rocked several buildings and clouds of radiation escaped from the power plant.

TEPCO crews also dumped 18 tons of seawater into a storage pool holding spent nuclear fuel to prevent it from boiling and releasing more radioactive steam.

The National Police Agency on Tuesday confirmed 9,199 people have died from the disaster and another 13,786 are reported missing. Other officials count the missing as dead and say the death toll is at least 22,000.

Nearly 264,000 were in shelters throughout the northeast in the hardest-hit areas, where at least 216,000 households remained without electricity.

TEPCO confirmed government reports of contamination in the Pacific Ocean about 100 yards south of the nuclear plant, possibly caused by runoff from reactors hosed with seawater. Government officials said the traces of iodine and cesium posed no immediate public health risks, while environmentalists worried that cesium could stay in fish that might end up in markets in Japan.

Meanwhile, more information emerged about the a 24-year-old school teacher from Richmond, Va., whose body was discovered in Ishinomaki, a city about 240 miles north of Tokyo.

Taylor Anderson is believed to be the first American confirmed to have died in the tsunami.

Miss Anderson likely drowned after saving children at a elementary school, after the tsunami crashed ashore, sweeping away whole towns under 30-foot-high waves, officials said.

Her mother, Jean Anderson, said her daughter was last seen after the March 11 earthquake riding her bike away from her elementary school after making sure parents picked up their children.

Her parents said she loved Japan, and began learning Japanese in middle school. After graduating fromVirginia’s Randolph-Macon Collegein 2008, she moved to Japan to work as a JET in the popular Japan Exchange and Teaching Program. She taught at eight schools in the Ishinomaki area.

The JET Program has brought thousands of foreigners to remote Japanese communities, which often adopt foreigners as their own. Her mother said she developed a love for her students and Japanese people.

“We would like to thank all those whose prayers and support have carried us through this crisis,” Mrs. Anderson and her husband, Andrew, said in a statement from the home south of Richmond.

“Please continue to pray for all who remain missing and for the people of Japan.”