HIGH WINDS DELAY INSPECTION OF ôPALERMO SENATORö
FBI and U.S. Coast Guard inspectors, frustrated by high seas and fierce wind gusts, have been unable to conduct tests for radioactivity on the 'Palermo Senator,' a containership ordered out of New York harbor earlier this week.
The vessel has been anchored six miles offshore near the Ambrose Tower, well outside of New York harbor. The Coast Guard has declared a forbidden security zone with a 500-yard radius around the ship.
“We know that, as of this morning, no tests could be conducted,” Sandra Carroll, a FBI spokesperson in Newark, N.J., told AS+ Thursday.
Ole Sweedlund, deputy managing director of Hanjin Shipping Co., charterer of the vessel, told AS+, “we hope to have an early resolvement of this situation.”
The 'Palermo Senator' arrived in New York harbor early Sunday morning from Valencia, Spain, having called at Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia; Khorfakkan, in the United Arab Emirates; Pusan, in South Korea, Hong Kong and Shanghai.
When the Coast Guard boarded the vessel as part of normal procedure, inspectors heard “bumping sounds” in a hold, suggesting that stowaways might be hiding in a container. After the ship docked at Berth 92 in Port Elizabeth, N.J., no stowaways were found, but inspectors discovered traces of radioactivity on board.
“Low levels of radiation were detected,” Carroll said. “The vessel was ordered out to sea immediately.”
More than 600 containers were to be off-loaded in the port of New York and New Jersey, but none were removed from the ship before it was banned from the harbor.
Asked what might be the source of radioactivity, a source close to the inspection told AS+, “there could be any number of explanations for leaking radiation from industrial components.”
The 10-year-old vessel, built in Hamburg, is owned by a German steamship line, Reederei F. Laeisz.