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By Meeyoung Cho

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea plans to return some steel scrap imported from Japan due to radiation contamination, the first returned shipment since Seoul heightened nuclear safety checks in 2012, the country's nuclear watchdog said in a statement on Monday.

The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission detected caesium 137 at a higher than allowed level in 20 kilogrammes of steel scrap out of a total 20 tonnes imported earlier this month, said a spokeswoman at the agency.

The scrap's origin within Japan was unidentifiable, according to the statement. Only the 20 kg of scrap, now stored separately, will be returned, the spokeswoman said.

South Korea imports steel scraps from various countries for recycling.

The commission said it planned to ask the Japanese government to cooperate on sharing information to prevent radioactive materials from being transferred between countries.

South Korea in September of last year extended a ban on Japanese fishery imports to cover imports from eight Japanese prefectures, including Fukushima.

The Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 sparked public fears of radiation contamination from Japanese imports, and local anti-nuclear activists used the event to argue against the expansion of domestic atomic power.

(Reporting by Meeyoung Cho; Editing by Richard Pullin and Tom Hogue)

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