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Gov't to ask internet auction sites to prevent nuclear material transactions

This screen capture of the Nuclear Regulation Authority's website shows a notice about its plan to ask international auction sites to prevent transactions of nuclear fuel materials.

TOKYO -- The nation's nuclear regulator will ask operators of major internet auction sites to prevent the transaction of nuclear fuel materials after it was found that a small amount of what is suspected to be uranium was sold on such a site.

The secretariat of the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) revealed the plan on Feb. 6 at a regular meeting of the authority. The operators to receive the requests are Yahoo Japan Corp., Rakuten Inc., Amazon Japan G.K. and Mercari Inc. The Japan Direct Marketing Association will also be notified, according to NRA secretariat officials.

At the meeting, the regulators also reported how the questionable transactions of the radioactive materials were tracked. They first confirmed such materials were being offered on the Yahoo auction site. The authority tried to reach the seller via the operator and asked if they obtained necessary legal permission for selling the materials. As there was no response to the inquiry, the authority reported the problem to the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

The MPD has identified the male seller and multiple buyers, and confiscated the materials. Investigators are treating the case as a possible violation of the Act on the Regulation of Nuclear Source Material, Nuclear Fuel Material and Reactors. The law bans the selling and buying of certain radioactive materials by unlicensed persons.

(Riki Iwama, Science & Environment News Department)

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