Fourteen tonnes of UK's nuclear waste lands at an earthquake-vulnerable site in Japan
AN OPEN invitation to devastation was given on April 26,
when the United Kingdom-
owned vessel, the Pacific
Pintail, finally docked at
Japan's Mutsu Ogawara port
and its 14-tonne cargo of
nuclear waste headed for a
nuclear dump built over an
The ship's arrival was just as stormy as its 2-month journey from Cherbourg, France (Down to Earth, Vol 3, No 19 and Vol 3, No 22). Acrimony raged till the last moment between Tokyo and the municipal government of Aomori, whose prefecture governor, Morio Kimura, made international headlines when he refused to let the ship dock. Finally, after a day's delay, an accord was reached at an emergency cabinet meeting between Kimura and the Science and Technology Agency.
Possible seismological mayhem is behind doubts about the suitability of Rokkasho in Aomori as a nuclear waste storage and plutonium reprocessing site. Aomori itself had been rocked in February, local opposition groups have published photographs of cracked roads and a damaged quay at a fishing port only a few kilometres from the nuclear dumping site. Even a slight temblor could crack open the 28 stainless steel canisters.
The Science and Technology Agency says that although the site rests on a fault, it is covered by a geological formation which has not moved for over 100,000 years, and that there are about 17 faults that may or may not be active within a 100 kin radius of the site.
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