METI to investigate radioactive scrap iron shipped to South Korea

The Japanese government will launch an investigation into scrap iron exported to South Korea that was contaminated with radioactive materials exceeding the maximum permissible level, trade ministry officials said Tuesday.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will conduct hearings with industry groups to look into the contamination, as scrap iron exporters in Japan are not obliged to test for radiation.

Some exporters conduct such tests voluntarily or at the request of destination countries. In the case of exports to China, all scrap iron needs to be tested.

South Korea’s Nuclear Safety and Security Commission said Monday that it detected up to 0.005 millisieverts per hour of cesium-137 in around 20 kgfrom 20 tons of scrap iron imported last Thursday from Japan.

The commission urged the importer to ship the scrap iron back to Japan.

An official at the commission said it does not know who exported the contaminated scrap iron, adding it appears the scrap was not from areas within 15 km of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant crippled by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Industry organizations in Japan will also look into the matter.


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