|Welsh sheep still being scanned by Geiger counters.|
Today is the 26th commemoration of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Our thoughts are with the people in the region who still suffer from the devastating health and environmental impact of radioactive contamination from the catastrophe. Places much farther away are experiencing the effects of this contamination. Sheep on some 330 farms in Wales are still being scanned by Geiger counters for radiation levels. One farmer commented that he did not understand why a new reactor was being planned in the country when it already had a wealth of natural resources such as wind, tidal and hydro.
Earlier this month, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) revealed plans to remove 2,274 spent fuel assemblies from the damaged reactors that will probably take at least a decade to accomplish. The first priority will be removal of the contents in Pool No. 4. This pool is structurally damaged and contains about 10 times more cesium-137 than released at Chernobyl. Removal of the spent nuclear fuel from the No. 4 reactor is expected to begin at the end of 2013.
A key goal for the stabilization of the Fukushima-Daiichi site is to place all of its spent reactor fuel into dry, hardened storage casks. This will require about 244 additional casks at a cost of about $1 million per cask. To accomplish this goal, an international effort is required, something that United States Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, conscious of the danger, has called for. As we have learned, despite the enormous destruction from the earthquake and tsunami at the Daiichi site, the nine dry casks and their contents remained unscathed.
President Obama continues to support the construction of more nuclear reactors in the United States in addition to the 104 already built.