Smugglers brought seafood into China from waters off Fukushima, report says

Company’s contraband shipments allegedly came from scene of 2011 nuclear disaster

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 August, 2016, 11:52pm
UPDATED : Monday, 22 August, 2016, 11:56pm

Customs inspectors in Qingdao have arrested a group of people for smuggling, saying they brought potentially radiation-tainted seafood from Fukushima, Japan into China, state television reported on Monday.

As much as 5,000 tonnes of expensive seafood like king crab and scallops, worth a total of 230 million yuan (HK$269 million), had been illegally imported by a company based in Shandong province and sold across the country over the past two years, the CCTV report said.

Some of the products were from waters near Fukushima, where an earthquake and tsunami in 2011 damaged a nuclear power plant and caused a major radiation leak.

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Fourteen people were arrested, Xinhua reported. A customs official said the suspects had posed a risk to public health.

Chinese authorities have prohibited the import of food and agricultural products from Fukushima and 11 other regions of Japan affected by nuclear contamination since the incident.

Almost all other countries have similar bans, making seafood from Fukushima very cheap.

The customs officials in Qingdao found fine frozen seafood being sold at unreasonably low prices earlier this year, and began to look into the case, CCTV said.

The company allegedly involved in the smuggling ring, with branches in Shandong, Fujian, Guangxi and Liaoning provinces as well as in the US, procured cheap seafood from Japan, Russia and the US, the report said.

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The company allegedly stored the goods in Hokkaido, Japan, changed the packaging on them, shipped them to Vietnam and finally transported them to China by road through Guangxi province.

“They would detour as far as this in order to avoid inspection,” said Li Fudong, the head of the local anti-smuggling bureau.

The owner of the company, surnamed Wang, was arrested in June when he returned from the US to Qingdao.