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Sunday, Sep. 16, 2012

READERS IN COUNCIL

Passing the nuclear waste buck


By FRED ALSDORF
Otsu, Shiga

Regarding the Sept. 12 front-page Kyodo article "Nuke waste plan scares scientists": So it's finally out in the open — the one issue that alone should have doomed any nuclear policy long ago. I'm referring to the disposal of spent nuclear fuel.

The article begins: "An organization representing the nation's scientists called on the government Tuesday to drop its plan to dispose of spent nuclear fuel and other high-level radioactive waste deep underground, saying the risk of geological-based problems is too high." In place of that plan, "The Science Council of Japan proposed keeping [nuclear] waste in 'temporary safe storage' sites during a moratorium that could last hundreds of years while efforts are made to establish a safe way to dispose of the lethal substances."

Only hundreds of years? Surely they can't be serious! Given the insanity of spreading nuclear reactors all around Japan, we need nuclear waste disposal technology and sites that will store these poisons for all eternity, not a mere couple of hundred or thousand years. After all, the half-life of U-235 is 700 million years and that of plutonium-239 is 24,100 years. On a human scale, that's eternity.

The Science Council hedges on its proposal, stating, "This does not mean postponing the problem [of nuclear waste disposal] irresponsibly to the future." But that is exactly what they are proposing for want of a better option. They are recommending passing on the challenge of "safe" nuclear waste disposal to those who inherit our desecrated planet and nation.

I think it is no exaggeration to say that our leaders have eternally poisoned portions of the Japanese archipelago, and no fancy words from empty-headed and technologically challenged politicians will ever change that reality.

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.


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