Carriers calling Japan watch for radiation
APL said Friday it will begin large-scale radiation scanning of containerized Japanese exports delivered to its marine terminal in Yokohama.
The Singapore-based liner carrier said it has been doing limited scanning since March 26, but no radiation abnormalities have been detected on its vessels or containers.
APL said it is one of the first container carriers to undertake large-scale cargo testing for radioactivity in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster. It expects to scan about 200 containers daily.
'We are taking this step to protect our people and to do what we can to ensure that our customers' cargo moves without delay,' said APL President Eng Aik Meng, in a statement. 'We will continue to scan as long as it is necessary to ensure we are not putting our people or customers' cargo at risk.'
APL said it is taking other precautions as well, including directing ships at sea to remain 200 nautical miles from the reactor site. It has also refused bookings within the safety zone.
The carrier said it has hired a Japanese surveying firm to scan export containers passing its Yokohama terminal in-gate. Portable detection equipment will be used to determine whether boxes have been exposed to heightened levels of radiation. Japan's customs authority has also strengthened preventive measures, including screening for radioactivity.
Since the earthquake, seven APL vessels carrying Japanese exports have been scanned at ports in Hong Kong; Los Angeles; Oakland, Calif.; and Xiamen, China. All of the containers discharged at those ports have been cleared for delivery.
MOL said one of its vessels had to return to Japan for cleaning after officials in Xiamen told the company the vessel needed cleaning to reduce radiation before it could be allowed to off-load cargo.
Bringing goods and food to Japan is more vital than ever since the recent earthquake and tsunami. However, liner carriers said they would continue to use caution when calling Japanese ports for the safety of their crews.
On Monday, CMA CGM said it will not transport any container to or from the contaminated area.
Maersk said since the Japanese earthquake it has not accepted export bookings from the impacted area and has implemented a 140 nautical mile no-go zone around the damaged reactor and is using weather routing to give its vessels the safest possible routes. The carrier also said it has made precautionary preparations including the availability of iodine tablets should it become necessary. ' Chris Dupin