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Homeland Security

Highly radioactive container detected at Kaohsiung Harbor

ROC Central News Agency

2011/06/10 21:53:44

By Chang Che-fon and Deborah Kuo

Kaohsiung, June 10 (CNA) A container containing scrap metal that had arrived at Kaohsiung Harbor was detected with radiation at 10,000 times above the maximum permissible level on Friday, the harbor authority said.

Harbor inspectors who were suspicious of the container alerted the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) about their find a day earlier.

In a joint inspection, port authorities and AEC specialists unearthed a broken metal probe rod -- measuring 52 centimeters long with a diameter of 1.5cm -- from the heap of scrap metal and identified it as the source of the radiation. Its radiation reading was 5,400 microsieverts per hour, compared to AEC's maximum permissible level of 0.2 microsieverts per hour.

The AEC confiscated the dangerously polluted metal rod.

The container was one of 10 that contained scrap metal imported by a Kaohsiung-based iron and steel company from the Netherlands Antilles.

Taiwan has heightened radiation screening at its seaports and airports after a deadly earthquake and tsunami hit Japan on March 11, causing a meltdown at a nuclear power plant that unleashed massive amounts of radiation.

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