Russia blocks 50 used cars shipped for sale from Japan
VLADIVOSTOK – CUSTOMS officials in far eastern Russia said they had stopped almost 50 secondhand cars shipped for sale from Japan that showed excessive radiation levels.
Customs officials stopped 49 cars with radiation levels up to six times above normal, while some vehicles had traces of the radioactive isotopes caesium-127 and uranium-238, said Roman Famin, who heads the regional customs’ radiation monitoring department.
The Vladivostok port receives about 300 cars from abroad every day, its management said in a statement on Thursday, complaining that it would shortly run out of space to park the contaminated cars.
‘If authorities don’t make a decision about radioactive cars, there will be no place to store them after a while,’ port director Sergei Lopunov was quoted as saying. — AFP
Local car dealers say no radioactive vehicles will come to Jamaica from Japan
Japanese used car exporters have been moving to reassure customers around the world that there is no need for concern about the possibility of radioactive contamination from the Fukushima nuclear accident in the Northeast of Japan. Japan is renowned for its new car exports, but it also exports significant quantities of used cars, largely sourced from Japan’s car auctions, to many countries around the world.
TOKYO (majirox news) — Japanese used car dealers who can’t export radioactive cars overseas are dumping them into the Japanese used car market, according to the Asahi Shimbun on Oct. 24. These cars have failed Japan’s dockside radioactive export tests.
“What you are seeing is just the tip of the iceberg,” said one car exporter to the Asahi who refused to be identified. “If a car gives off a high radioactivity count, it’s too much trouble to decontaminate it. It’s better to just sell it in a Japanese car auction where there are no restrictions. It’s like throwing away a bad card you were dealt in poker.”
Another automobile exporter said, “I purchased a minivan for 1.23 million yen ($16,000) intending to export it to Southeast Asia. However, when it was brought to dockside and underwent radioactivity testing, it came in at 110 microsieverts, far exceeding Japan’s permissible limit of 5 microsieverts.
“After the car was refused for export, I tried over and over again to decontaminate it. The end result was that I was only able to get it down to 30 microsieverts. So I sold it at an auction in Japan. What do you expect me to do? Take a loss on it?”
Since August, regulations have been toughened up. The export limit is now 0.3 microsieverts. According to the Japan Harbor Transportation Association, as of September about 1% of all cars tested had failed the test, with a few registering over 5 microsieverts. A total of 660 cars have been refused export permission since August.
According to Yutaka Shioda, managing director of the Japan Automobile Exporters Association, “All cars being auctioned in Japan should undergo radioactivity tests.”
A Fukushima prefecture used car dealer told the Asahi, “If they have Fukushima or Iwaki number plates, we re-register the cars elsewhere in the Kanto region and then auction them.”
Masahiro Fukushi, professor of Radioactive Substances Control and Handling at Shuto University in Tokyo, says that there are genuine practical difficulties in the way of decontaminating automobiles. “While it’s easy to wash off any contamination from the exterior of the car, it’s difficult to decontaminate the seats and the interior of the automobile,” he said. “I really think that the government should put forth guidelines about permissible radioactivity levels in used cars so consumers can buy them with confidence.”
Radiation Shows Up in Chile
At the beginning of March, The Mainichi Daily News in Chile reported that customs agents had detected low levels of radiation on vehicles shipped from Japan.
Traces of radiation were found on 21 of the 2500 vehicles that were shipped from Yokohama. The Chilean Nuclear Commission deemed the level of radiation too low to be harmful to human health, although Chilean port workers protested, believing their safety was being put at risk.
Australia Was Also Watching Cars
Following months of campaigning by the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), ARPANSA agreed to begin screening cars arriving in Australia from Japan.
“This is a win for workers, and also a win for the Australian public,” said Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith.
“Any risk of radiation is too big a risk to take. Workers and consumers come into direct contact with these cars – the Government watchdog must ensure there is no health and safety risk.”
Mr Smith said the Australian public had a right to know if there was a radiation threat.
“We’re pleased ARPANSA have recognised that this is an important health and safety issue, and will be screening the next batch of cars being imported from Japan,” he said.
The MUA is currently working towards radiation screening for all Japanese cargo entering Australia.
In April and May alone, more than 44,600 vehicles that were produced in Japan were registered in Australia.
In Australia back in June, a News Limited report revealed that 700 Toyota vehicles and 100 other cars exported from Yokohama would be analysed by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) when the cargo ship Trans Future 7 docks at Port Kembla in Wollongong. Of particular interest to the Australian officials were 30 used vehicles, which may not have been subjected to the same level of safety testing and scrutiny in Japan as brand new vehicles.