France's Enthusiasm

April 1, 2011 11:18 PM

At the French Embassy, I met Natalie Kosciusko-Morizet, the Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development, Transport and Housing, and Bernard Bigot, the Head Commissioner of Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission.

The words on the back of Bigot's business card were written in Japanese, which showed how enthusiastic he was about coming to Japan.

Commissioner Bigot described the types of technologies that can be offered to Japan. He explained how France has experienced the decommissioning of nuclear reactors in the past, and now has the ability to rinse abandoned nuclear reactors and even decontaminate the waste water by separating it from the radioactive materials.

There are two ways to clean the waste water. One way is to separate the water and radioactive materials by distilling the polluted water; the second way is to absorb and take out the radioactive materials by depositing a special clay into the polluted water.

The Commissioner emphasized that the polluted water will simply spread if we continue pouring water outside of the reactor, so it is essential to decontaminate the surrounding water and repair the cooling system.

The Minister arrived in Japan with President Sarkozy and has been ordered to specify within two days which French technologies can be applied to the situation in Japan.

In these past few days, I have received quite a few questions asking if the Japanese government releases accurate information, since the evacuation criteria of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and that of the Japanese government differ, and whether the government is properly addressing this issue.

It may be the time for the Japanese government to set up a joint nuclear emergency response with the IAEA headquarters. The headquarters would not only gather information from around the world but this collaboration may also strengthen the credibility of the information that the headquarter publishes.

Although three weeks have passed since the earthquake, we have not yet seen the real-time numbers from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant monitoring post. Initially, the government blamed this on the power outage of the monitoring post caused by the earthquake and tsunami but when foreign media members ask me why electric power companies have still not fixed the power source, all I can say is, "you know, it's TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company)."

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