The problem with nuclear waste has surfaced in Japan.
Ambassador Murata of Japan informed us that the total numbers of the spent fuel rods at the Fukushima Daiichi site excluding the rods in the pressure vessel is 11,421. They are stored in deep concrete pools of water elevated 100 feet above ground. Some of these pools are damaged from the earthquake. If the water leaks out, the world will experience major radiation. Another earthquake could be a catastrophe. They contain roughly 336 million curies of long-lived radioactivity. About 134 million curies is Cesium-137 -roughly 85 times the amount of Cs-137 released at the Chernobyl accident. The total spent reactor fuel inventory at the Fukushima-Daichi site contains nearly half of the total amount of Cs-137 to have been released by all atmospheric nuclear weapons testing, Chernobyl, and world-wide reprocessing plants.
It is important for the public to understand that reactors that have been operating for decades, such as those at the Fukushima-Dai-Ichi site have generated some of the largest concentrations of radioactivity on the planet.
Spent reactor fuel cannot be simply lifted into the air by a crane as if it were routine cargo. In order to prevent severe radiation exposures, fires and possible explosions, it must be transferred at all times in water and heavily shielded structures into dry casks.. As this has never been done before, the removal of the spent fuel from the pools at the damaged Fukushima-Dai-Ichi reactors will require a major and time-consuming re-construction effort and will be charting in unknown waters.