Thursday, August 11, 2011
Why are they sending us high level waste now when we are already being irradiated with radiation from Fukushima?
Sellafield High Level Waste (HLW) shipment sails for earthquake region of Japan
3 August 2011
Sellafield High Level Waste (HLW) shipment sails for earthquake region of Japan – a direct threat not only to the people and environment of Japan, but also to en-route communities in the Caribbean and Pacific and their marine environment.
The shipment, which comes less than five months after the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit the Pacific coast of northern Japan, and while the Fukushima-daiichi nuclear meltdown and accident is on-going, left the port of Barrow-in-Furness at approximately 0200 hrs this morning. The cargo of nuclear waste is bound for Aomori, north-eastern Japan via the Carribbean and the Panama Canal.
The vitrified HLW, delivered by rail from Sellafield in three TN28VT transport flasks yesterday, was loaded onto the Pacific Grebe, a British-flagged ship operated by Pacific Nuclear Transport Limited (PNTL). Within the transport flasks were 76 cannisters of vitrified HLW, totalling over 40 tonnes of highly radioactive waste which has been assigned to the Kansai, Shikoku and Kyushu Electric Power Companies in Japan respectively.
Last month CARICOM, which represents the nations of the Caribbean, had demanded a halt to all shipments in a statement condemning ‘as unacceptable and injurious, the practice by the United Kingdom, France and Japan of transporting hazardous waste through the Caribbean Sea, thus risking the very existence of the people of the Caribbean’. The Pacific Grebe, making her maiden voyage to Japan, is expected to arrive in the Caribbean in mid-August, the Panama Canal on 18th August, and its HLW cargo scheduled to arrive in the port of Mutsu-Ogawara around 25th September.
CORE’s spokesman Martin Forwood said today: “It is incomprehensible that whilst Japan, its people and environment continue to suffer daily from the still unfolding Fukushima catastrophe, Sellafield should see fit to add to the country’s woes by sending nuclear waste. This unwanted shipment of the most radioactive material on the planet is also being made in flagrant disregard of the long-standing opposition to such shipments by the Caribbean nations and others en-route. These dangerous transports are wholly unnecessary and must be stopped”.
The high level waste results from the reprocessing of Japanese spent reactor fuel at the Sellafield site in NW England – the process which also recovers plutonium. Under contracts signed in the 1970's and 1980's, Japanese nuclear power companies shipped the waste to the UK and France for reprocessing with some of the waste and all of the plutonium to be returned. The HLW, in glass block form, is sufficiently radioactive to deliver a lethal radiation dose to a person standing within one metre of an unshielded block in less than one minute.
Today’s shipment is the second return of HLW to Japan, the first undertaken early last year when 14 tonnes in one transport flask were returned on the Pacific Sandpiper. Some 15 years late, these waste returns to overseas reprocessing customers were originally scheduled to be made in the mid-1990’s.
A shipment of plutonium MOX fuel was scheduled to leave France the first week of April 2011 for Japan, including Fukushima. Due to the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident it was cancelled after it was revealed by Greenpeace France.