Japan’s neighbors monitor shipments for radiation

Japan’s neighbors monitor shipments for radiation

Meteorologist Chernov holds a device to measure the radioactivity level at a weather station in Russia’s far eastern city of Vladivostok.

March 17, 2011, Thursday/ 17:18:00

Japan’s neighbors have ordered strengthened radiation monitoring of shipments from the earthquake-stricken country amid its frantic attempts to cool overheating reactors at a damaged nuclear power plant. The UN health body said there was no evidence of contamination outside Japan.

Regulators in China, which is Japan’s largest trading partner, issued an order on Wednesday calling for radiation monitoring to track any goods possibly contaminated by leaks from nuclear power reactors damaged by Friday’s 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan. Several other Asian nations were taking similar precautions. A statement from the World Health Organization’s China representative Michael O’Leary said WHO “would like to assure governments and members of the public that there is no evidence at this time of any significant international spread from the nuclear site” in Japan’s northeast.

The statement also warned against rumors falsely saying a radiation cloud was spreading across Asia. Officials in Ibaraki prefecture (state), just south of Fukushima, said radiation levels were about 300 times normal levels by late morning. While those levels are unhealthy for prolonged periods, they are far from fatal. Fukushima is about 140 miles (220 kilometers) north of Tokyo. Besides China, far eastern Russia and the Korean peninsula are Japan’s closest neighbors. The Russian Emergencies Ministry said on Tuesday it had detected no increase in radiation levels.

South Korean officials said on Wednesday they had strengthened radiation monitoring. Officials began to inspect all livestock and fisheries products imported from Japan for radiation contamination on Monday, according to the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. In the past, only random samples were inspected. About 50 tons of animal products, mostly cheese, have been tested so far but no contamination has been found, said ministry official Jang Jae-hong.

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