Russia stops 50 radioactive cars from Japan: official

14th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

Customs officials in far eastern Russia said Friday they had stopped almost 50 secondhand cars shipped for sale from Japan that showed excessive radiation levels.

Customs officials stopped 49 cars with radiation levels up to six times above normal, while some vehicles had traces of the radioactive isotopes caesium-127 and uranium-238, said Roman Famin, who heads the regional customs' radiation monitoring department.

The radioactive cars started arriving at the Vladivostok port 10 days ago, but the government consumer watchdog has not made a decision on what to do with the contaminated cars, Famin said at a briefing.

"If the decision is not made, the port will be filled with radioactive vehicles," he said.

The Vladivostok port receives about 300 cars from abroad every day, its management said in a statement on Thursday, complaining that it would shortly run out of space to park the contaminated cars.

"If authorities don't make a decision about radioactive cars, there will be no place to store them after a while," port director Sergei Lopunov was quoted as saying.

The Russian Far East has always been a major hub for distributing used Japanese cars to the Russian market, although the business was hit by a recent tax hike on imports of secondhand cars, designed to protect the local industry.

Japan was hit by a tsunami and nuclear crisis last month and auto makers have been forced to slow production due to a shortage of parts.

© 2011 AFP

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