By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Staff Reporter
US officials are working with the government and the Port Authority to insure radiation detection equipment are operational as the potential for contamination is a “concern”.
Following reports last month that Jamaican Customs authorities have recorded “higher-than-normal” levels of radiation in two shipments from Japan, Neda Brown, a public affairs officer within the US Embassy, yesterday confirmed that the US Department of Energy has visited the country to “review a radiation detection programme.”
Energy officials visited the Bahamas the week of January 27, Ms Brown said.
However, it is still not clear whether or not the country already has an established programme or detection equipment.
According to The Gleaner, Jamaica Customs Agency has been on “high alert” since the March 2011 earthquake-triggered meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.
The JCA has been conducting the checks through a partnership with the United States Department of Energy, according to The Gleaner, which reported that tests are conducted on all vehicles and spare parts coming from Japan.
In an interview with The Tribune last month, Comptroller Charles Turner confirmed that the Bahamas Customs Department does not test cargo shipments for radiation contamination.
Mr Turner said he was “not aware of any checks being undertaken in the Bahamas”, nor did he have the proper training to speak with authority on the issue.
Calls placed to the Port Authority for clarification on the issue were not returned at that time.
The Tribune also requested information from the Bahamas Customs department for the number of imported items from Japan since 2011.
However, the request had not yet been authorized up to press time.
Yesterday, Ms Brown said: “The Department of Energy is committed to working with the Bahamas government and the Port Authority to insure that detection equipment is maintained properly and is operating at optimal levels.”