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Highly radioactive container detected at Kaohsiung Harbor

2011/06/10 21:53:44

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

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

In a joint inspection, port authorities and AEC specialistsunearthed a broken metal probe rod -- measuring 52 centimeters longwith a diameter of 1.5cm -- from the heap of scrap metal andidentified it as the source of the radiation. Its radiation readingwas 5,400 microsieverts per hour, compared to AEC's maximumpermissible 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 importedby a Kaohsiung-based iron and steel company from the NetherlandsAntilles.

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

(By Chang Che-fon and Deborah Kuo)