APL to scan Yokohama export containers for radiation

Containership operator APL said it will begin radiation scanning of containerized Japanese exports delivered to its marine terminal in Yokohama for carriage on APL vessels.

The decision makes APL one of the first container carriers to undertake large-scale cargo testing for radioactivity since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami damaged Japanese nuclear reactors north of Yokohama.

Testing is scheduled to begin April 6.  The carrier said it expects to scan approximately 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.  “We will continue to scan as long as it is necessary to ensure we are not putting our people or customers’ cargo at risk.” 

Damage to the nuclear reactors has heightened radiation levels in the vicinity of Fukushima, Japan, according to Japanese authorities.  They have established a 30-kilometer safety zone around the site.

The decision to scan Japanese exports at Yokohama is the latest in a series of precautions taken by APL.  The carrier has directed ships at sea to remain 200 nautical miles from the reactor site.  It has also refused bookings within the safety zone.

APL commenced limited scanning March 26.  It says that no radiation abnormalities have been detected on its vessels or containers.

APL 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 if boxes have been exposed to heightened levels of radiation.   

Since the earthquake, seven APL vessels carrying Japanese exports have been scanned at ports in Hong Kong; Los Angeles; Oakland, California; and Xiamen, China.  All of the containers discharged at those ports have been cleared for delivery.

According to APL, radiation scanning at Yokohama is not expected to disrupt vessel schedules.  The carrier said all of its Japan services are operating normally and meeting arrival and departure times.

April 1, 2011