Health Ministry to probe possible importation of radioactive Japanese vehicles

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Fukushima, JapanCars are washed away as Tsunami waves hit Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan on March 11, 2011. Photo released, May 19, 2011.

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Health Ministry to probe possible importation of radioactive Japanese vehicles

JANUARY 13, 2014 | BY  | By Zena Henry

Health Minister Bheri Ramsarran stated yesterday that an investigation will be launched into the importation of used Japanese vehicles containing high levels of radiation now that the Ministry has become aware of the possibility that the harmful nuclear decay could reach Guyanese shores.
The Minister made the disclosure when Kaieteur News inquired as to whether the Ministry was aware that Jamaican authorities had returned two vehicle shipments to Japan (including one destined for Guyana), after it was found that the vehicles and other auto parts contained elevated levels of radiation. The unusual radiation levels are a result of the March 2011 tsunami which caused severe power outage in the Asian nation and saw radioactive spills from the wrecked reactors of the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant. 
Minister Ramsarran said that he was not au fait with the issue, but would “launch an investigation into the serious matter.” He told Kaieteur News during a telephone interview that his Chief Medical Officer was at the time listening in on the conversation and he would be directed to look into the matter.
The Health Minister also mentioned that the probe will take a multi-agency effort since at first level, importation deals with the trade and commerce sector. The Minister added that he would therefore be seeking a word with trade authorities, before the Health Ministry could make the relevant steps.
The Minister reiterated the seriousness of the radioactive equipment and expressed that he would earnestly be seeking to address the matter.
A senior car dealer told Kaieteur News that he was recently made aware of the Japanese vehicles having unusually high levels of radiation. Mr. Wilfred Bransford told this newspaper that while he is unaware whether any of the contaminated vehicles are in the country, from henceforth, he will be requesting from his foreign suppliers information relating to radiation levels before it is imported.
Mr. Bransford said that in some cases, suppliers might not be forthcoming with information to buyers and would more than likely provide information, only on request. The car dealer opined however, that Jamaica detecting the contaminated vehicles indicates that the nation may have prepared itself for these occurrences, knowing that many used vehicles and spare parts come from that Eastern part of the world.
Bransford suggested further that Guyana should now put stiff measures in place to ensure that safe vehicles and spare parts are entering the country. He opined also that regulations should state what levels of radiation are accepted in the country, while touching on the need to re-look vehicle importing rules.
The Jamaican Gleaner stated however that in November 2012, a minibus imported from Japan by a used-car dealer in Jamaica was scanned and found to have radiation levels which required it to be moved to a quarantined area. In December of 2013, a shipping container containing used car parts destined for Guyana was also found to have elevated levels of radiation and was also transferred to a quarantined area for protection. Both shipments were returned to Japan.
The media outfit quoted Velma Rickets, Jamaica’s Assistant Commissioner of Customs as saying that, “The Jamaica Customs Agency had been on high alert since the earthquake affected Japan.”The nation’s Commissioner of Customs, Major Richard Reese was also quoted as saying that, “It could be that there is a weakness in the inspection process on that [Japan’s] side,” while the Jamaican Foreign Affairs Ministry hinted that it would be making contact with Japanese authorities.
The Jamaican Customs Agency has also been working with the United States Department of Energy to conduct radiation examinations on all vehicles and spare parts coming from Japan, the report said.
Japanese workers at the tsunami-crippled Japanese nuclear plant are still scrambling to find the cause of a highly radioactive water leak from a brand-new storage tank amid concerns that the problem is hampering cleanup efforts.
The report said that, the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant suffered multiple meltdowns when the 2011 tsunami knocked out power and the plant is still on a fragile makeshift cooling system that produces massive amounts of highly radioactive water coming out of the wrecked reactors.

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Comments

  • de castro  On January 17, 2014 at 7:34 am

    Interesting read….am sure the authorities in Japan will defend this issue
    rigorously as the reputation of the Japanese car industry is in question.
    However this may be just a “one off” incident and assurances of a
    repeat is avoided in future shipments….Japanese cars are manufactured
    mostly outside Japan so hopefully this is a “one off” incident….
    UK s Nissan cars are exported all over Europe and ROW today
    creating thousands of jobs in areas of high unemployment.
    Soon UK may be manufacturing Chinese new generation of hybred
    Cars for export all over Europe and ROW….clean cars less dependant
    on fossil fuel a step in right direction. Germans are not happy about
    competition in car industry but accept that we live in a global village
    ….
    Fact
    Japanese and German car technology is king….but a king/queen can loose his
    /her kingdom in a revolution..Chinese revolution in waiting.
    My spin entirely
    Philosophically yours
    Kamptan

  • Clyde Duncan  On January 17, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    My understanding is that these are used vehicles that are shipped to developing nations where they can be cannibalized to rebuild others in need of repair. In other words, some of the vehicles are junk to be stripped for spare parts. To make a long story short, they are NOT new vehicles.

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