High radiation on Japanese visitors

By Wang Hongyi, Peng Yining and Hu Meidong (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-03-26 08:19
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High radiation on Japanese visitors
Japan Self-Defence Force officers in radiation protection suits hold a blue sheet over patients who were exposed to high levels of radiation at the Fukushima nuclear power plant as they are transferred to the Fukushima Medical University hospital on Friday. Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the situation at the nuclear complex was "nowhere near the point" of being resolved. Agence France-Presse

Government bans imports of some food products amid fears

SHANGHAI / Xiamen, Fujian - Two Japanese travelers had "alarmingly high levels of radiation" when they arrived in East China's Wuxi city, China's quality watchdog reported on Friday.

The high levels were discovered when the two arrived from Tokyo on Wednesday, said the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ).

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The regulator also said that "abnormal" levels of radiation had been found on Monday on a Japanese merchant vessel berthed in East China's Xiamen port, Fujian province.

The detections were the latest consequences of contamination from a crippled nuclear plant following the Asian nation's devastating earthquake and ensuing tsunami two weeks ago.

Hours after the detection of radiation in Wuxi, the AQSIQ banned imports into China of some Japanese food products amid fears of contamination.

The ban covers dairy, seafood and vegetable products as well as fruit from the Japanese prefectures of Fukushima, Tochigi, Gunma, Ibaraki and Chiba, the quality watchdog said.

"Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant leak has already resulted in serious pollution to local food and agricultural products," the agency said, adding that the ban took effect on Thursday. "The Japanese government has already detected excessive radioactive matter from many regions related to food and agricultural products, and has prohibited the distribution of some food products."

Japan has stopped shipments of vegetables and milk from areas near the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant in the country's northeast, while Singapore, Australia, the United States, Taiwan and Hong Kong are all restricting food and milk imports from the area.

Though the Chinese mainland has not found any abnormal radiation levels on goods imported from Japan, it will step up checks on other food products from Japan, the AQSIQ said.

The agency said the radiation was discovered on the two Japanese nationals when the local quality control bureau conducted radiation checks on passengers aboard flight ZH9056 that reached Wuxi, East China's Jiangsu province, from Tokyo on Wednesday.

The AQSIQ said radiation on the two was alarmingly high, and the case was reported to the local environmental and health departments.

The AQSIQ said one of the two came from Nagano prefecture, about 350 km from Fukushima prefecture, and the other from Saitama prefecture, about 200 km from Fukushima, where the radiation leaking nuclear power plant is located.

On Wednesday night, the two were sent to the Second Affiliated Hospital of Soochow University in Suzhou for medical treatment. Their luggage and clothes were also detoxified, the AQSIQ said.

"They were discharged from hospital after passing the re-examination and experts said they posed no radiation risk to others," the Ministry of Health said.

"The two people came to visit China with a tour group. After the treatment, they will return to their trip," a doctor from the Second Affiliated Hospital of Soochow University, who declined to be named, told China Daily on Friday.

So far, 151 people have been tested for radiation contamination at the country's 66 designated hospitals and institutes. Among them, three were found to have abnormal radiation levels, including the two travelers, the health ministry said.

Earlier Friday, the AQSIQ announced abnormal radiation was found on a Japanese merchant vessel that berthed in Xiamen port on Monday.

The vessel belongs to Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, a Japanese company with bulk transport services around the world.

The vessel is still docked at the port, and the local quality control authority is working with other government departments to "take more measures" on the matter, said an AQSIQ spokesperson without elaborating.

The spokesperson didn't say if high levels of radiation had been found on the ship itself or the goods onboard, but said more details would be provided by the local government.

The 70,000-ton container vessel MOL PRESENCE, with a crew of more than 20 aboard, had set off from the US and reached Tokyo on March 17. It left Tokyo the same day and reached Xiamen port on Monday night.

This was China's second report of Japanese craft with excessive radiation after a Japanese cargo plane was found to have radiation levels 22 times higher than normal when it landed in Dalian, Liaoning province, on March 16. The plane was reported to have returned to Japan without unloading later the same day.

Shao Zheping, head of the Navigation College of Jimei University in Xiamen, told China Daily on Friday that foreign ships have to be examined and quarantined in anchorage waters, usually dozens of miles offshore, before entering port.

After Japan's earthquake and the following nuclear leakage, Xiamen, one of China's major international shipping hubs in Southeast China, launched radiation tests for ships from Japan with well-protected inspectors, according to an official at China Ocean Shipping Agency in Xiamen.

Xinhua contributed to this story.