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Okinawa assembly protests sub radiation leak

Sep. 16, 2008 - 07:08AM   |   Last Updated: Sep. 16, 2008 - 07:08AM  |  
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NAHA, Japan The Okinawa prefectural assembly unanimously adopted a resolution and an opinion Wednesday protesting that a U.S. nuclear-powered submarine made port calls at a U.S. naval facility in the prefecture while water containing trace amounts of radiation leaked from it.

Members of the prefectural assembly will deliver the resolution and opinion to U.S. government institutions based in the prefecture, possibly next week.

The text of the resolution and opinion says the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine Houston called at the U.S. Navy's White Beach in the city of Uruma a total of five times during a two-year period between July 2006 and this April, when the contaminated water was leaking.

The assembly asks the U.S. military to refrain from sending the Houston to the facility until it is confirmed safe.

Even though the amount of radiation was minimal, the fact that the vessel repeatedly visited the facility while radiation was leaking caused great concern among Okinawa Prefecture residents, the documents say.

The number of port calls at White Beach by U.S. nuclear-powered submarines has come to a record 28 so far this year.

The assembly expressed strong concern about the increased calls at the facility and demanded that the U.S. and Japanese governments explain reasons behind the increase.

On Aug. 1, the U.S. Navy said water with trace amounts of radioactivity began leaking in Japan from the Houston while it was docked in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, in March.

The problem was discovered July 24 after the sub underwent a regular maintenance check in Hawaii, naval officials said, adding the water had not been in direct contact with the nuclear reactor and that a crew member who was exposed to the water proved to be unaffected.

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