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Radiation concern bars Japanese car shipment

Russia's consumer watchdog is concerned about the continuing contaminated water leaks from the Fukushima nuclear plant.

In a move that could sound an alarm to 'grey import' car fans, a shipment of 132 used Japanese cars has been barred from entering Russia over radioactive contamination concerns nearly three years after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was crippled in March 2011.

Russia's consumer watchdog authority, Rospotrebnadzor, announced the cars was just one of 165 shipments of radiation polluted goods -- including previous shipments of cars and car parts -- that have been denied entry to the country's ports.

Despite the amount of time that has passed, the consumer agency said there was still serious concern about the continuing contaminated water leaks from Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant, which failed after an earthquake-generated tsunami smashed into the facility, 250km from Tokyo and close to several car factories.

The plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), did not confirm until July 2013 that tonnes of radioactive water had leaked from Fukushima. Much of the contaminated water reached the Pacific Ocean, and Russia and its neighbours are also inspecting every shipment of fish and other foods from Japan, which are prohibited from entry unless officially cleared by radiation checks.

Shipments of cars from Japan into Australia following the Fukushima failure have been inspected by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, with the first testing conducted on 800 cars carried here on the Trans Future 7 in July 2011.

Particular attention has been paid to used 'grey import' vehicles that may not have undergone the strict testing applied by new-car manufacturers in Japan to ensure radiation levels are lower than the limit recommended by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

This reporter is on Twitter: @KarlaPincott