Taiwan to check waste shipments from Japan for radiation

Kyodo

Taiwan will conduct radiation checks on some types of container cargo arriving from Japan, the island’s legislature said on Wednesday.

The body’s Finance Committee ruled that waste materials such as plastic, scrap metal and paper must be checked with radiation meters upon arrival at the island’s four seaports: Keelung, Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung.

Jao Ping, director general of the Customs Administration agency, told reporters the measure will go into effect as early as this week.

On Monday, the committee passed a more onerous resolution requiring all container cargo from the ports of Tokyo and Yokohama to undergo radiation testing at the Port of Kaohsiung starting Nov. 17. It then backtracked on the decision.

The resolution was sponsored by Legislator Lu Shiow-yen of the ruling Nationalist Party, who argued that all cargo containers coming from or routed through Japan should be required to pass through Kaohsiung for radiation checks.

Kaohsiung Customs is the only division equipped with radiation detection monitors.

Lu’s proposal drew strong opposition from the Ministry of Finance and Customs Administration.

An official told reporters on Monday that the measure was unfeasible because it would lead to extra transportation expenses and cause major problems for exporters and importers.

The official also revealed that authorities would propose a revision to the resolution when the committee met again on Wednesday.

Lu’s office said she filed the motion because she saw a report in the Liberty Times newspaper in August saying that since the Fukushima nuclear crisis in 2011, Kaohsiung Customs had detected 226 cargo containers originating from or routed through Japan with radiation levels exceeding the legal limit.

After the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, Taiwan banned food imports from five of Japan’s 47 prefectures — Fukushima, Ibaraki, Gunma, Tochigi and Chiba — and has been conducting random radiation checks on 11 categories of imported foods.

Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration announced late last month that it is planning to introduce regulations requiring foods imported from Japan to carry prefecture-specific labels of origin, with some items needing to undergo radiation checks by Japanese authorities.

Those regulations are expected to take effect as early as next year if no objections are filed within a 60-day window starting Oct. 29.