No need for concern over Japanese vehicle imports


The NZ Transport Agency says it is confident that relatively small number of vehicles imported from the area around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan since the devastating earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011 will not be contaminated with radioactive material.

The NZTA’s National Manager Vehicles Don Hutchinson says the Japanese authorities have been monitoring machinery, including vehicles, for any signs of contamination and there are strict controls in place preventing any contaminated goods leaving the ports.

As well, the National Radiation Laboratory in New Zealand has been closely monitoring the situation along with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and it advises that radiation contamination is unlikely to pose any health risks.

“Given the checks put in place by other agencies, NZTA does not plan to introduce any specific screening for radiation on imported vehicles,” says Mr Hutchinson. “The industry and potential vehicle buyers here can be assured that the appropriate controls and checks are already in place so that it would be highly unlikely that any imported vehicle would pose a potential health risk.”

Mr Hutchinson says that the situation will continue to be monitored.

The NZTA has been advised that any minute traces of radioactivity found in dust can be removed by washing the vehicle.

“All vehicles leaving Japanese ports undergo a rigorous pre-cleaning process as part of the existing bio-security checks he said”. 

“NZTA already has in place a robust border Inspection process that assesses vehicle structure and water damage to ensure that any repairs are carried out and certified prior to the vehicle being registered for use on NZ roads”

Update - August 2014

The NZTA have been in regular contact with the National Centre for Radiation Science (formerly the National Radiation Laboratory) in Christchurch to seek advice regarding concerns over radiation contamination of used vehicles exported from Japan.

Their advice at the time of the initial nuclear reactor explosion (at Fukushima) and today is as follows;

"Mail and general cargo originating from Japan and being imported into New Zealand does not present any significant radiation health hazards to people handling it, for example at mail centres, airports and sea ports. This includes, but is not limited to cars, machinery and parts, and permeable materials such as textiles.”

Based on this advice, the NZTA has not introduced any screening of imported used vehicles from Japan.  However, if an owner of an imported used vehicle from Japan is concerned about possible contamination of their vehicle the National Centre for Radiation Science will provide a service to check the vehicle.  If a vehicle owner wants to arrange for their vehicle to be checked, see contact details below.

ESR (Institute of Environmental Science and Research Ltd)
T: 03 351 6019

The NZTA is also aware of radiation checks that are carried out in Japan on some used vehicles that are being exported through sites being operated by the Japan Export Vehicle Inspection Centre (JEVIC) and Autoterminal Japan Ltd.