The limits of radioactive waste

According to the July 10 AP article “Tepco safety drive hires foreign advocate,” Lady Barbara Judge believes that Tokyo Electric Power Co. has changed enough under a new president to begin restarting its reactors. Has it really? Is she not saying these kinds of things simply to please Tepco, Keidanren, the Liberal Democratic Party and the prime minister?

Consider the following line taken from the article: “She also says nuclear power remains the best option for a resource-poor nation like Japan …” Actually information reported in more recent Japan Times articles cast doubt on this assertion. For example, in the July 11 editorial “Rushing to restart reactors,” it is pointed out that “there is no established technology for safely storing (radioactive waste).”

Also on July 11, the front-page article “Pro-nuke LDP’s candidate quiet on Ehime reactor restart bid” states that if Japan’s reactors are restarted and run at pre-3/11 levels, “media reports estimate that 33 of the 50 reactors will see their on-site spent-fuel pools max out their capacity within six years,” that the pools of the remaining reactors except three will be full after another six years and that there were already about 14,200 tons of spent nuclear fuel resting in pools next to the country’s reactors as of September 2011.

Is this simply the price that a “resource-poor” country has to pay to have an economy sufficient to maintain an acceptable human lifestyle? I do not think it necessarily is.

At any rate, Judge’s words would resonate better with this reader if she were to sell all of her property and buy land and a house somewhere near the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture (one of the plants that will have full pools within six years of starting up) and live in it year-round.

donald wood

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

  • Starviking

    I would prefer scientific or technical reports on the capacity of nuclear fuel pools rather than media reports. They tend to be more accurate.