Comment: Concerns Raised Over Lack Of Radiation Checks On Shipments

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Concerns Raised Over Lack Of Radiation Checks On Shipments

Tribune 242, 30Jan2014, by Ava Turnquest, Tribune Staff Reporter,

THE BAHAMAS Customs Department does not test cargo shipments for radiation contamination, Comptroller Charles Turner confirmed yesterday.

Following reports last week that Jamaican Customs authorities have recorded ‘higher-than-normal’ levels of radiation in two shipments from Japan, Mr Turner said he was “not aware of any checks being undertaken in the Bahamas”.

According to The Gleaner, Jamaica Customs Agency has been on “high alert” since the March 2011 earthquake-triggered meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.

The JCA has been conducting the checks through a partnership with the United States Department of Energy, according to The Gleaner, which reported that tests are conducted on all vehicles and spare parts coming from Japan. The US department frequently visits to check on the operation of the programme and equipment, with the last visit in December, according to The Gleaner.

Questions forwarded to the US Embassy concerning whether or not a similar programme is being employed in the Bahamas were not answered before press time.

Jamaica’s discovery came days after reports that Russian authorities banned more than 100 used Japanese vehicles from entering the country, stating “radioactive pollution concerns”.

Jamaica’s first case involved a minibus imported by a local used-car dealer in November 2012, according to The Gleaner.

The article added: “The most recent case, according to Assistant Commissioner of Customs Velma Ricketts, came last month when a trans-shipment container carrying used motor-vehicle parts destined for Guyana was scanned at the Kingston Container Terminal and its radiation levels was determined to be “elevated”.

According to the report, both shipments have been quarantined and will be returned to Japan.