Radioactive waste from the area around the nuclear reactor on the U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan is scheduled to be removed from the ship at the ship’s home port, the U.S. Naval Base Yokosuka (Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture), in April as part of regular maintenance, the Akahata Shimbun learned on Feb. 16.
On Feb. 14, the Military Sealift Command began pre-selection of the commercial cargo carriers that will participate in the bidding to transport the nuclear waste from the Yokosuka base to Bremerton, Washington State.
The cargo ship must be of U.S. nationality, capable of transporting at least four 20-foot containers of radioactive materials and corrosive materials and 20 boxes (each about 2.4 meters in length, 1.2 meters in width, and 1.5 meters in height) of flammable solid materials and radioactive materials. The shipping date is currently scheduled for April 19.
On Sept. 25, 2008, the U.S. Navy deployed a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the USS George Washington, to the Yokosuka Base. It was the first time that such a vessel was deployed outside of the United States. Regular maintenance is performed on the ship every year between January and May, and low-level radioactive waste released during maintenance is transferred to a cargo ship on the base and then shipped to the mainland United States.
Citizens’ groups and peace organizations are protesting the transport of the waste, citing the 1964 agreement between Japan and the United States, which stipulates that under ordinary circumstances, materials exposed to radiation will not be removed from the ship while the ship is at a foreign port. The groups are requesting the nuclear flattop be withdrawn from Yokosuka.