MOSCOW, October 15 (RIA Novosti) – Radioactive steel imported by South Korea from Japan, which is still struggling to eliminate the consequences of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, poses a real threat, the country's environmentalists warn.
"A case in August, in which imports of scrap steel from Japan were found to contain radioactive material and sent back to Japan clearly shows we're exposed to a real risk," Park Jong-kwon, chairman of the Masan Changwon Jinhae Korea Federation of Environmental Movements, said, as quoted by the Wall Street Journal Wednesday.
On Tuesday, South Korean environmental activists staged a rally in front of a steel company in Changwon, a city on the country's southeastern coast. The protesters demanded that local steel companies stop importing Japanese steel, especially since many of South Korean seaports are not equipped with radiation detection devices.
The protest in Changwon followed similar complaints earlier this week by a civic group in another South Korean port city of Gunsan, located southwest of the capital Seoul.
In August, the Seoul government discovered that there were traces of radiation in some scrap metal imported from Japan and ordered the importer to return the items. According to information from the South Korean Nuclear Safety and Security Commission, cited by the Wall Street Journal, the radioactive material was of the kind that was released into the air during Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster.
On March 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was hit by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and a subsequent tsunami, which caused a partial meltdown of three of the plant's nuclear reactors. The radiation from the plant leaked into the atmosphere, soil and sea.
Japanese authorities plan to complete Fukushima decontamination by 2017. Full liquidation of the consequences of the nuclear catastrophe is expected to take about 40 years.