Radiation found on Japan passengers to Taiwan, S. Korea

TAIPEI/SEOUL Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:42pm GMT

1 of 2. Travellers from Japan line up to go through a screening gate as staff from Taiwan's Atomic Energy Council monitors the radiation level on them at Taipei's Songshan airport March 17, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Pichi Chuang

TAIPEI/SEOUL (Reuters) - About 25 passengers arriving in Taiwan from Japan were observed with levels of slightly higher exposure to radiation, a government official said on Thursday.

Authorities in South Korea had earlier reported unusually high radiation levels on three passengers arriving from Japan.

The Taiwan official, part of the government's atomic energy council, told Reuters by telephone that the 25 passengers had arrived from various Japanese cities and had "slightly higher" levels than normal.

The official provided no further details. He said the government had set up monitoring posts to subject arriving passengers to tests. No further measures were planned.

In Seoul, the Yonhap news agency quoted officials as saying that a Japanese man in his 50s arriving at Incheon airport had a reading exceeding 1 microsievert from his hat and coat, several times the normal reading.

He was believed to have lived in Fukushima prefecture, site of the nuclear power station damaged in last week's big earthquake and tsunami.

The level posed no public health risk and officials will release the three passengers, YTN television said.

South Korea's nuclear safety agency has said it considers 300 nanosieverts per hour as the ceiling of a normal level of radiation in atmosphere. One microsievert translates to 1,000 nanosieverts.

The checks at the airport were voluntary, a Reuters photographer at the airport said.

Vice Science Minister Kim Chang-kyung told lawmakers on Thursday that officials were preparing to set up monitoring devices at the southern port of Busan soon to measure radiation levels on ferry passengers arriving from Japan.

(Reporting by Jack Kim in Seoul and Rachel Lee in Taipei; Editing by Ron Popeski and Jeremy Laurence)