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One worker killed, one injured at Fenix Marine in Los Angeles

Incident marks end of five-year safety record in U.S. marine cargo handling.

An accident at the Port of Los Angeles took the life of a dock worker and injured another, ending the five-year U.S. safety record for marine cargo handling.

The May 15 incident occurred at the Fenix Marine Services terminal at Pier 300, the second-largest cargo handling terminal at the port. The initial reports are that the accident involved a tire blowout on a top-loader container handler.

The deceased worker, whose identity was not immediately available, was a member of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). The injured worker was transported to Harbor UCLA Medical Center.

“My heart goes out to the families of the victims of this tragic accident and to all the brothers and sisters of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union,” said Gene Seroka, Executive Director of the Port of Los Angeles.

Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino said in a statement that “Today is a tragic reminder of the danger that thousands of workers face every day working on our docks.”

Fenix Marine Services said in a statement that “the safety and well-being of our employees
is always our primary concern and an investigation is underway with local agencies to
ensure a cause is identified and to prevent such incidents.

“Our thoughts and heartfelt condolences go out to their families, loved ones and all of our
ILWU colleagues,” it added.

The accident happened on the day of the ILWU’s ‘First Blood’ commemoration, which honors the lives lost working on the waterfront.

According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the last death that occurred during marine cargo handling occurred May 10, 2014. A longshoreman was struck and killed while loading cargo at the Gulf Stream Marine terminal in Houston.

A California OSHA health complaint filed against Fenix Marine Services in March remains open. Further details about the complaint were not immediately available.

An infrastructure fund controlled by Swedish investment firm EQT owns Fenix Marine, which handles about 2 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) in containers annually.

Los Angeles Port Police along with the California office of OSHA and the U.S. Coast Guard are investigating the accident. In the interim, Fenix Marine Services is closed to truck traffic and container ship handling operations through the morning of May 16, according to a port spokesperson.

Three CMA CGM container ships, APL Thailand, APL Esplanade and the President Eisenhower, are currently berthed at Fenix, according to the spokesperson. They are likely to remain at berth until the investigation is concluded.  

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Michael Angell, Bulk and Intermodal Editor

Michael Angell covers maritime, intermodal and related topics for FreightWaves. His interest in transportation stretches back several generations. One great-grandfather was a dray horseman along the New York waterfront and another was a railway engineer in Texas. More recently, Michael has written about the shipping industry for TradeWinds, energy markets for Oil Price Information Service, and general business topics for FactSet Mergerstat and Investor's Business Daily. When he is not stuck in the office, he enjoys tours of ports, terminals, and railyards.

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