Japan Foreign Policy Update
April 27, 2011
Japan Starts Attestation of Radiation Measurement for Outgoing Containers and Ships
The Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) has laid down a four-point guideline for measuring radiation dose levels for export containers and ships in order to provide foreign port authorities with proper access to accurate data and issue attestations concerning levels of radioactivity. The measurement and attestation scheme starts from April 28.
The Government of Japan believes that the scheme will leave no doubt about the safety of all Japanese exports are.
Radioactive Monitoring at Ports Enhanced
MLIT publicizes radiation dose rate in the air around ports of Tokyo, Yokohama, Kawasaki and Chiba and the amount of radioactive materials in the seawater of Tokyo Bay on its website (http://www.mlit.go.jp/kowan/kowan_fr1_000041.html). The newly added radioactive measurement and attestation scheme on containers and ships that starts at the ports of Tokyo and Yokohama, is intended to meet calls for further strengthening radiation-related measures at ports.
In making the announcement on April 8, Minister Ohata singled out the following points as factors to be incorporated into the guideline:
(1) Method of measuring radiation levels (including equipment to be used and container portions measured);
(2) Details of an attestation document to be issued by port authorities (such as the date of measurement, container numbers, the radiation level and the means of issuance);
(3) Indicative criteria of a safe dose level (or the level above which decontamination is required) based on international standards as set by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); and
(4) Action to be taken when dose levels exceed the above criteria.
Minister Ohata said MLIT expects the scheme to prevent damage arising from groundless rumors by verifying the safety of export containers and ships, and thus making sure that accurate information will be communicated to foreign countries.
Following are outlines of the guideline. To be measured is the dose-equivalent rate of radiation (referred to as the “dose rate” hereafter).
Radiation will be measured at container terminal gates and ship decks, using mobile radiation meters.
For containers, dose rate of container on chassis is measured at a point 1.5 m above ground level on three surfaces (aft <door>, right and left), in principle, when tractor is connected; Same is measured on four surfaces (fore, aft, right and left), in principle, when tractor is removed. Background dose rate should be read and recorded at the same time.
For ships, dose rate should be measured at five points in total – one point on deck at bow, two points on deck on both sides around mid-ships, one point on deck at stern, and one point in vicinity of forecastle.
For containers, the measurement is conducted either by port authorities or by ship operators, etc. On the latter case, port authorities confirm that the manner of measurement is in accordance with the guideline. On both cases, attestation is issued by the MLIT and port authority jointly, certifying: date and location of measurement; container number; survey equipment; confirmation that the measurement method follows the guideline; the result of measurement, etc.
For ships, ship operators may request the Government of Japan or Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (a ship classification society which is known as Class NK) to issue a document for attestation when they conduct measurement of dose rate following the guideline. The measurement may be conducted by ship operators for themselves or third parties instead and the above mentioned document will be requested for attestation either by the Government or by Class NK.
In accordance with the IAEA technical document, IAEA-TECDOC-1162, the value to require decontamination of a container, or to recommend decontamination of a ship in port, is provided as three times the measured background dose rate.
In accordance with the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code, the value to require port authorities or terminal operators to inform related organizations before decontamination of a container is provided as 5μSv/h. Likewise, ship operators should ensure that a decontamination of a ship takes place when the measured dose rate exceeds 5μSv/h as provided in the IMDG Code.
(4) Action to be taken when the criteria are exceeded
When one dose rate exceeds three times the measured background dose rate, decontamination of a container should be done at the area specified by the port authority. In the case of measurement of dose rate for ships in port, it is recommended that measures for decontamination be taken in a case where the measured dose rate is in excess of three times the measured background dose rate. Ship operators are requested to take measures for decontamination when the measured dose rate exceeds 5μSv/h.
The above guideline is applied as follows:
- Shipping companies, etc. apply to port authority for a container to be measured for radiation dose.
- Shipping companies, etc. apply to the MLIT for a ship to be measured for radiation dose.
- Upon such application, the MLIT, port authority (in case of a container) or Class NK (in case of a ship) undertakes measurement of radiation dose and issue attestation. The applicant will submit the attestation to shipping companies, etc. of arrival ports.
For schematic illustration of the procedure, please refer to the flow chart entitled "Radiation Measurement at Port in Japan (Outline)" as herewith attached.