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U.S. forces removed radioactive waste from nuclear-powered warship in violation of agreement

The U.S. forces had transported to the U.S. about one ton of low-level radioactive waste produced during the maintenance of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier at the U.S. Yokosuka Naval Base in Kanagawa Prefecture.

This was confirmed by the U.S. Navy Command in Japan on April 1 in answer to an Akahata inquiry.

The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Gorge Washington was deployed to the U.S. Yokosuka Naval Base in September last year. The radioactive waste was transported on March 28 by a cargo ship chartered by the U.S. Navy.

The commander also revealed that another round of maintenance on the aircraft carrier started in January, including equipment for cooling a reactor. Dealing with such equipment could lead to workers' exposure to radiation or a radiation leakage to surrounding areas. About 550 workers from the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Washington are involved in the maintenance procedure. It is scheduled to continue until early May.

According to the Navy Command, it is the first time that radioactive waste, such as pieces of cloth and plastic sheets, was removed from the George Washington after it arrived at the Yokosuka Base.

On the occasion of its deployment to Yokosuka, the U.S. Navy promised that it will stick to the "Aide Memoire" of 1964, which states, "No material exposed to radioactivity is normally removed from SSN's while in foreign ports." The latest removal of radioactive waste is in violation of this promise.

- Akahata, April 2, 2009

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