Will Canada take Fukushima's radioactive rods?
The decommissioning of the Fukushima 1 nuclear plant is delayed by a single problem: Where to dispose of the uranium fuel rods, writes Yoichi Shimatsu, a Hong Kong-based environmental writer and former editor of the Japan Times Weekly. Shimatsu poses the question in Global Research, adding that "many of those rods are extremely radioactive and partially melted, and some contain highly lethal plutonium."
He explains why the United States' obligation to store Japan's uranium waste has been overcome by Americans' opposition to providing storage. He names Canada as one of the "more logical choices" for disposing the rods due to its size and sparse population. Shimatsu also indicates that past backroom uranium deals may have left Canadian politicians susceptible both to bribes and leverage Japan could exert by threatening to name who took graft. He writes:
...Canadian politicians are bound to opportunistically oppose the return of depleted uranium since any shipments from Fukushima would be met by a massive turnout of "not-in-my-backyard" protesters. The only way for Tokyo to convince the local politicos to go along quietly is by threatening to publish an online list of the bribe-takers in parliament who had earlier backed uranium mining on behalf of the Japanese interests.
He goes on to say that in addition to the fissile fuel inside the plant's six reactors, more than 7 tons of spent rods must be removed from Fukushima. Japan must find a permanent burial ground for the rods before they can bury the plant beneath concrete. Japan's unstable earth makes the country itself an "unsuitable" storage site.
Shimatsu also gives an in-depth explanation of why China won't be the site. He says Japan has been monitoring Chinese radioactive leaks for years and that China has kept this information secret from the public. Japan could did talk with China about storing the material, he says. But the plan was scrapped, because of "the skittishness of the ordinary Chinese citizen."
A nuclear disposal deal would require trucks loaded with radioactive cargo to roll through a densely populated port, perhaps Tianjin or Ningbo, in the dead of night. There is no way that secret shipments wouldn't be spotted by locals with smart phones, triggering a mass exodus from every city, town and village along the route to the dumping grounds in China's far west. Thus, the skittishness of the ordinary Chinese citizen knocked out the easiest of nefarious plans.
He also says that Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) has allocated 1 trillion yen ($12 billion) in funds for nuclear waste disposal. Areva, the French nuclear monopoly, has teamed up with Tepco to find an overseas storage site. So far, the Tepco-Areva team have quietly contacted three Asian countries - Kazakhstan, China and Mongolia -- to set up a center for "reprocessing", a euphemism for nuclear dump site.
He concludes that Mongolia may be the final resting place of the hazardous materials.
Illusory, shortsighted greed will surely triumph in Mongolia, and that leaves a question of moral accountability for the rest of us. Will the world community feel remorse for dumping its nuclear mess onto an ancient culture that invented boiled mutton, fermented mare's milk and Genghis Khan? For guilt-ridden diplomats from Tokyo and Washington wheedling the dirty deal in Ulan Bator, here's the rebuttal: Did the national hero, the Great Khan, ever shed any tears or feel pangs of guilt? There's no need for soul-searching. A solution is at hand...