Radioactive used cars being sold in Japan?

Hundreds of vehicles banned from being exported
Oct 27, 2011

While news of the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in Japan has largely died down, concerns over items that have been exposed to the facility's release of radioactive materials have been raised again.

According to, vehicles that were once owned by the residents of Fukushima are now being sold in Japan's used-car market after the March 11 double distaster.

One Japanese newspaper cited by reported that many used-car dealers cover up the origin of the Fukushima-sourced vehicles by replacing the license plates with new ones.

One van that was supposedly re-registered and sold within Japan was found to emit 110 microsieverts of radiation an hour. The limit set by the country for cars being exported to other countries is 0.3 microsieverts an hour.

"I decontaminated repeatedly after the test and retested the filter of the air conditioner, the wipers and tires, replacing them thoroughly, but the radiation level dropped only to 30 microsieverts per hour," said the unnamed dealer who bought the van at an auction. "I decided to sell the vehicle in Japan because I couldn't afford to lose the money."

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Japan's harbor authorities reportedly said that 660 cars have been barred from export for exceeding the radiation limit.

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So if you plan on shopping for a used car from Japan, it looks like you shouldn't just check the integrity of the right-hand to left-hand drive conversion, you should bring a geiger counter as well just to be safe.

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