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Customs officials monitoring radiation on incoming LAX passengers from Japan

March 17, 2011 |  9:25 am

U.S. Customs officials said Thursday they were continuing to evaluate the potential risks posed by radiation contamination on travelers flying into LAX and other airports from Japan.

They said in a statement that workers were being directed to specifically monitor maritime and air traffic from Japan for possible radiological contamination “out of an abundance of caution.”

Officials did not say when the stepped-up monitoring began but said that on Thursday no travelers or aircraft entering the United States had tested positive for harmful levels of radiation.

It was unclear whether contaminated cargo or travelers had been detected on any other days.

Travelers who manifest signs of radiation sickness would be referred to health authorities and provided appropriate treatment, according to the statement.

Officials said several types of radiation detection equipment were being used at air and sea ports, including large-scale radiation portal monitors employed to scan maritime cargo and express consignment and mail arriving from Japan.

Contaminated items would be denied entry, agency officials said.

The exact method of determining whether travelers had been infected by radiation was unclear.

But on Wednesday, KTLA-TV anchor Frank Buckley, who arrived at LAX after a reporting assignment to Japan, tweeted that all passengers were being “wanded” for radiation by U.S. border officials.

The border protection agency said it would continue to evaluate the potential risks of radiation contamination on inbound travelers and cargo and would “adjust its detection and response protocols ... as developments warrant."

On Wednesday, the U.S. State Department “strongly” urged U.S. citizens not to travel to Japan at this time and said those in Japan should consider departing.

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-- Ann M. Simmons

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