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Vehicle importers may soon need radioactive-free certificates- Environment Minister

Importers of vehicles and vehicle spares from Japan may have to produce certificates showing that their imports are free from worrying levels of radioactive material, in the wake of a shipment of Guyana-bound spares being seized in Jamaica because of elevated levels of radiation.

“We will have to require certificates that they are free from radioactive material. We will not allow that to happen here- the exposure to human health and the environment,” Environment Minister, Robert Persaud told Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com).

He said Guyana would be seeking more information from Jamaica and Japan about the shipment that has been seized at a Kingston wharf and being prepared for return to the supplier. Among the enquiries would be whether the shipment of spares was contaminated in Japan or elsewhere.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), the minister said, would have to collaborate closely to pick up imports that are tainted with radioactive material. He added that Guyana would also be examining international rules that could be used to address the potentially hazardous threat.

Persaud was not entirely sure how equipped was the GRA to test and intercept items with radioactive material.

In the case of Jamaica, authorities there were able to detect the radiation levels by using sophisticated equipment that have been provided by the United States Department of Energy to conduct radiation tests on all vehicles and spare parts coming from Japan.

The Jamaica Gleaner on Friday quoted that island’s Assistant Commissioner of Customs Velma Ricketts as saying that last month a trans-shipment container carrying used motor-vehicle parts destined for Guyana was scanned at the Kingston Container Terminal and its radiation levels was determined to be “elevated.

Jamaican authorities have been on high alert for radioactive material ever since the 9.0 earthquake that rocked Japan in 2011, triggering a tsunami that struck the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Jamaica’s Commissioner of Customs, Major Richard Reese also cited the need to hold talks with Japanese authorities about the need for enhanced inspection mechanisms before goods are shipped out of Japan.