Sasebo city seeks more oversight of nuclear vessels
August 23, 2008
SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Sasebo city officials are calling for an investigation by the United States and increased regulation of nuclear-powered vessels in port after discovering a visiting submarine might have leaked radioactive water.
The city assembly unanimously approved a resolution calling for the actions during an emergency meeting Thursday.
It is to be delivered to Japan’s ministry of foreign affairs next month.
The resolution urges the national government to weigh the safety of nuclear vessels and to strictly follow rules requiring notification to local governments of accidents.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy should conduct a thorough investigation of the USS Houston visit earlier this year and start participating in the city’s annual nuclear safety drill, the city assembly said.
The Navy did not immediately respond Thursday to requests for comment.
"Without establishment of safety, a monitoring system and [incident] prevention system of nuclear vessels, we cannot approve nuclear vessel visits without thorough consideration," the resolution said.
Nuclear-powered Navy vessels visit the city often, including the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier in July and submarines in recent weeks.
The Houston visited Sasebo in March and April. A small leak of radioactive water was found in July while the submarine was in dry dock in Pearl Harbor.
"[The Japanese government’s] view on the safety of the port and nuclear vessels is dubious," said Masayuki Nagayama, chairman of the city’s Special Committee on Base Measures, which drafted the resolution.
Also, its response to the incident was unsatisfactory because it waited a day to notify the city of the possible leak, Nagayama said.
"Residents’ feelings about the leakage is [it’s] not how much but the fact that there was leakage," he said.