Maritime Union Wins Radiation Testing For Imported Japanese Cars

The Maritime Union of Australia has won a victory for workers and consumers, with cars arriving in Australia on June 23 to be screened for radiation.

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) will this week screen cars arriving in Port Kembla from Japan.

This batch test for radiation follows months of campaigning by the MUA to ensure Japanese cargo and cars were screened for radiation upon arrival in Australia.

"This is a win for workers, and also a win for the Australian public," said Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith.

"Any risk of radiation is too big a risk to take. Workers and consumers come into direct contact with these cars - the Government watchdog must ensure there is no health and safety risk.

"The Australian public has a right to know if there is a radiation threat."

In early May, cars arriving in Chile from Japan were found to be contaminated with radiation.  Despite this, ARPANSA refused to commit to scanning cargo until today, after long-running talks with Maritime Union officials.

"We know from the tragedy in Japan that people are feeling the effects of radiation hundreds of kilometers away from the destroyed nuclear plant. We can't take the risk of contaminating workers," said Mr Smith.

"All we have been asking is for cargo to be tested before being offloaded in Australia.  The fact remains that we actually have no idea whether goods are contaminated or not.

"We're pleased ARPANSA have recognized that this is an important health and safety issue, and will be screening the next batch of cars being imported from Japan."

Ports Australia and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) have supported the union's push for radiation testing to occur.

The cars in question will be arriving at Port Kembla, Wollongong, on June 23 on the vessel Trans Future 7. ARPANSA technicians will be present to screen the cargo before it is offloaded, in conjunction with MUA representatives.

The MUA is working towards radiation screening for all Japanese cargo entering Australia.