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by Tim Beissmann

Radiation tests of a shipload of 800 cars from Japan that arrived in Port Kembla last Thursday found no contamination on either new or used vehicles.

Officials from the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) tested the internal and external surfaces of 102 vehicles (53 used cars, 49 new cars) that arrived on the Trans Future 7 from the port of Yokohama late last week.

Using portable handheld radiation (gamma-ray) dose rate monitors and (beta/gamma) contamination monitors, the testers found radiation does rates in the normal range of background radiation. (Background radiation is the radiation constantly present in the natural environment of the Earth, and is not linked to nuclear contamination.)

Upon analysis of the clean test results, ARPANSA officials briefed dock workers and union representatives, issuing the following statement:

“ARPANSA continues to advise that at this point in time it is not considered necessary to introduce any radiation screening measures for mail, sea or air cargo, or aircraft arriving from Japan. This is consistent with the approach being taken in a number of other countries, such as the UK, Canada and New Zealand,” the statement read.

“The Japanese Government and industry have established processes for monitoring of goods exported from Japan. The radiation protection criteria used for this contamination screening is consistent with Australian and international guidance.”

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) welcomed the radiation testing but continues to push for more consistent testing of suspect boats arriving in Australia.

MUA assistant national secretary, Warren Smith, said the union wanted to see enhanced testing of products arriving on the Kaien, which has been through the Fukushima exclusion zone and is set to arrive in Newcastle next week.

“We call on the government to adopt a consistent and rigorous approach to testing of all cargo arriving from Japan, given recent tragic events there,” Mr Smith said.

“The MUA has a ‘safety first’ approach to worker and public safety and our legitimate expectation is for the government and regulatory bodies to match that.

“Radioactive goods have been discovered in recent months, arriving by ship from Japan, to ports in Chile, China, Russia and mainland Europe.

“In our view there is no safe level of radioactive exposure and it is better to be safe than sorry.”

What are your thoughts on the issue? Should all ships arriving in Australia from potential ‘danger zones’ in Japan be radiation tested, or should we trust the experts from ARPANSA that boats docking here are safe?

Feel free to express your opinion in the comments section below.




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