Wyden calls for quicker cleanup in Japan

April 19, 2012 at 7:25 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 19 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden called on Japan to hasten the cleanup of radioactive debris from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex meltdown last year.

Wyden, D-Wash., said Japan's 10-year plan for cleanup and containment of radioactive materials is not fast enough, The Oregonian reported Thursday.

"The Japanese are talking about a 10-year program to move [radioactive fuel rods and other waste] to dry storage," Wyden said. "That is not soon enough. It's got to be done more quickly. ... To me this is not a debatable proposition. Waiting 10 years after these kinds of earthquakes and tsunamis. I think the cleanup has a lot of significant gaps."

How Japan handles the cleanup, he said, "is going to a great extent define the future of nuclear power both in the United States and around the world. This is going to trigger a very significant debate about the design of nuclear power facilities and the location of nuclear facilities."

Wyden, who visited the Fukushima disaster site with the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on April 6, acknowledged the U.S. government cannot force Japan to accelerate the cleanup.

In a letter to Ichiro Fujisaki, Japanese ambassador to the United States, Wyden urged him to seek expertise and assistance from abroad.

"Many nations possess expertise in nuclear energy technology, including the United States, and the full breadth of that international expertise should be made available to Japan in dealing with this crisis," he wrote.

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