* Spent fuel rods need to be moved to safety-Wyden
* Urges Japan to accept help, asks US officials to do more
By Roberta Rampton
WASHINGTON, April 16 Japan, with assistance from
the U.S. government, needs to do more to move spent fuel rods
out of harm's way at the tsunami-stricken Fukushima Daiichi
nuclear plant, said U.S. Senator Ron Wyden on Monday.
Wyden, a senior Democratic senator on the Senate Energy
committee, toured the ruined Fukushima plant on April 6, and
said the damage was far worse than he expected.
"Seeing the extent of the disaster first-hand during my
visit conveyed the magnitude of this tragedy and the continuing
risks and challenges in a way that news accounts cannot," said
Wyden in a letter to Ichiro Fujisaki, Japan's ambassador to the
Last March, an earthquake followed by a tsunami wrecked the
Fukushima plant, causing the world's worst nuclear accident in
25 years and prompting global scrutiny of the safety of nuclear
Wyden said he was most worried about spent fuel rods stored
in damaged pools adjacent to the ocean, and urged the Japanese
government to accept international help to prevent further
release of the radioactive material if another earthquake should
In a statement on his website, Wyden said the only
protection for the pools from another tsunami appeared to be "a
small, makeshift sea wall erected out of bags of rock."
Wyden said the spent fuel should be moved to safer storage
sooner than anticipated under a 10-year clean-up plan from
TEPCO, the owner of the nuclear plant.
The lawmaker also wrote to Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and top U.S. nuclear
regulator Gregory Jaczko to ask them to find ways to help Japan
address the problem.
(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)