FMC urges measured response to Japan crisis
Federal Maritime Commission Chairman Richard A. Lidinsky Jr. urged the international shipping industry to respond with care to the crisis at the nuclear facility in Fukushima, Japan.
“Overreactions based on fear and misinformation can needlessly multiply the harm from this tragedy, both for Japan in its time of need and for each of its trading partners,” he said at the Washington Freight Transportation Policy Forum hosted by the National Industrial Transportation League.
“If you are a foreign government deciding on policies for accepting ships from Japan at your ports, a dockworker deciding whether to unload the ship, a shipper deciding whether to go forward with an import or export, an intermediary arranging transportation, or a carrier making service decisions, you have a responsibility to consider safety,” he said. “But you also have a responsibility to gather the facts, heed the experts, and make sound decisions that don't needlessly harm the supply chain that is so vital to all of our livelihoods.”
FMC has set up a webpage dedicated to the situation at the Fukushima plant with links to advisories and information that would interest the shipping industry. These include, for example, U.S. Coast Guard safety advisories and the status of Japan's major container ports at Tokyo and Yokohama.
Ports and shipping companies are grappling with the issues raised by the Fukushima disaster.
Last week, the port authority in Xiamen, China notified MOL that one of it ships, the MOL Presence, “needs cleaning to reduce the radiation before it can be allowed to off-load its cargo at the port.'
An MOL spokesman told American Shipper that on-site cleaning and inspection by a third party were not approved, so the MOL Presence sailed to Kobe. It was the first time this has happened to an MOL ship, he added.
MOL's containerships are calling Tokyo, Yokohama, Shimizu, Nagoya, Osaka, Kobe, Kanmon, Moji, Hakata and Hibikinada.
On Wednesday, Hamburg S'd said it canceled a Japanese port call for one of its ships, the Cap Isabel, because of weather conditions.
“An appropriately large time window must be available to any vessel calling in Japan for it to leave the region quickly if the situation in Fukushima should escalate further,' explained Eva Graumann, director corporate communications for Hamburg S'd. She said that was the situation in the case of the port calls of the Cap Jackson in Yokohama and Tokyo, respectively, on March 24.
“The current weather situation for the Cap Isabel is different. Since weather conditions in the next few days are expected to change, Hamburg S'd has decided at short notice to cancel the port call in Tokyo,” Graumann said.
The company added that it would “keep a close eye on the situation in Fukushima in order to be able to reach a timely decision on the next port calls in Tokyo and Yokohama.”
Lidinsky also said that the FMC planned to follow up on its recent investigation into vessel capacity and equipment availability with a project to enhance service contracting practices for small and medium sized shippers. ' Chris Dupin