Radioactive Used Cars Being Sold Illegally in Japan

OSAKA, Japan -- Dangerously radioactive cars are being sold to unsuspecting motorists in Japan.

Vehicles that once belonged to people living in Fukushima have flooded the used-car market since the prefecture's nuclear power plant was destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami in March.

So far, 660 cars have been barred from export because they exceeded the radiation limit, harbor authorities said.

Instead of destroying the vehicles, many dealers disguise their origins with new license plates to fool prospective buyers, The Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported Tuesday.

One van that was re-registered and passed around the domestic market was found to emit 110 microsieverts of radiation an hour -- the national limit for cars being exported to other countries is 0.3 microsieverts an hour.

An unnamed dealer from the western city of Osaka purchased the now-notorious van at auction.

"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," he said. "I decided to sell the vehicle in Japan because I couldn't afford to lose the money."

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