Japan and US: You must construct “Onkalo”- Fukushima Issue

Anant Babu Marahatta
Sendai, Japan

(News analysis)

Being one of the eyewitnesses from Sendai, Japan, I should proudly say that it was not so big issue about the ~9 M mega-quake that shook some of the major cities of northeast-Japan including Sendai of Miyagi prefecture on March 11, 2011, as all the skyscrapers are still standing unlike the case in Haiti few months ago. Even the mechanical damage caused by the big Tsunami, the consequence of that tremor, has been stopped broadcasting by the world’s leading news networks as well as covering by the front pages of the leading newspapers.

However, the major technical damage of the Tsunami which is being faced by the Fukushima based nuclear power plants, each has the capacity of storing 100s of tons of nuclear fuel, has been publishing with the greatest priority. It is reminded that the storage of all the crippled power plants had contained tons of nuclear fuel and were fully operated during the time of Tsunami. Thus, it is not surprising to mention “Japan is having a big nuclear disaster and crisis” which has presented the crucial question to the world “what to do with nuclear energy?” and I believe (& you too) the world has seriously begun thinking about it.

The current situation of the nuclear disaster in the world after receiving ‘Fukushima-nuclear plants threats’, can be envisioned by this news headline “In search of a nuclear disposal site” published by the “Japan Times” on 7th April 2011. It's every nation's responsibility to construct permanent nuclear waste repositories on its own territory. It is a praiseworthy work that around 300 km northwest of Finland's capital, an island named “Helsinki” houses the potential site for one of the world's first permanent underground high-level nuclear waste repositories “Onkalo” (Finnish language for “hiding place”).The repository is hundreds of meters deep and is designed to store high-level nuclear waste for at least 100,000 years. Research is still under way, but the dumping of the spent fuel is scheduled to begin around 2020.

Even though, Aomori prefecture of Japan is housing “Rokkasho reprocessing plant” for low-level as well as a temporary storage space for high-level radioactive waste, it is not enough at all for the final repository. It must be appreciated that US had spent much time and money in order to develop a permanent repository for spent nuclear fuel and other high-level nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, but the project was scrapped by the Obama administration amid local opposition.

Come on Japan & US !! You are the leaders of the world but why are you still operating massive nuclear power plants without installing proper safety measures? It's too late but for the safe future, you have to construct the final repository for the nuclear waste.

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