• Kyodo


The U.S. Navy is planning to set up an emergency operations center in the event of an accident involving the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier it plans to deploy in 2008 to its base in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, sources said Thursday.

The navy has said the 102,000-ton USS George Washington has no history of radiation leaks, but the plan calls for more than a dozen experts on nuclear accident prevention to be permanently assigned to the center.

The members will monitor reactor and radiation levels, gather information and prevent radiation from spreading if an accident occurs, they said.

The center will be located inside the base near the headquarters for all U.S. naval forces in Japan. The navy plans to devise effective disaster prevention scenarios by next summer and conduct training for about a year before going into operation, the sources said.

Although the navy has declined comment, the sources said it set up a smaller emergency operations center in the past in connection with about 20 nuclear submarines that visit the base every year.

The United States has stressed the safety of the George Washington, which will replace the conventional-powered USS Kitty Hawk in 2008. It says the reactor would not be used while the vessel is in the harbor and the impact of any accident would be contained within the base.

But some experts have said an accident involving the carrier, which has an energy output equivalent to a medium-size nuclear plant, could kill up to 1.6 million people in and around Yokosuka.

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