Ship Rejected in China on Radiation Heads to Japan

A ship that had “abnormal” amounts of radiation after passing 67 nautical miles (124 kilometers) off Japan’s Fukushima prefecture, site of a crippled nuclear-power station, was heading back to the country after being rejected by authorities in China.

The MOL Presence is due to arrive in Kobe on March 30 from Xiamen, according to AISLive Ltd. ship-tracking data on Bloomberg. A Xiamen port official, who declined to give their name in a telephone call today, confirmed that the vessel had left and declined to elaborate.

An inspection detected “abnormal” amounts of radiation on the deck and the surface of containers on the Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. vessel after it arrived in Xiamen on March 21, according to a March 25 notice on the website of the Xiamen Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau. There were normal levels in crew areas, it said.

Kazumi Nakamura, a spokeswoman for Tokyo-based Mitsui O.S.K., said today she couldn’t comment as she was traveling. Calls to the City of Kobe’s port general affairs office and to the Port of Kobe’s general affairs office went unanswered.

Radiation Concerns

Concerns about radiation leaking from the Dai-Ichi power station have disrupted shipping from Japan with Hamburg-based Hapag-Lloyd AG halting Tokyo calls, the Japan Coast Guard advising ships to keep at least 30 kilometers from the plant and overseas ports scanning cargos. Tokyo port has tried to ease fears through steps including posting information about radiation levels online.

“Radiation is not at a level where we should be concerned,” Junko Tashiro, a port spokeswoman, said today by phone. The nuclear-power plant, damaged following a magnitude-9 earthquake on March 11, is about 220 kilometers north of Tokyo.

Companies including Sony Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp. have curtailed production since the quake and a subsequent tsunami because of damaged factories or parts shortages. The nuclear-power plant crisis has also caused electricity shortages.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection scanned 355 boxes at the Port of Los Angeles onboard the first container ship to arrive in the country from Japan following the quake, according to operator APL Ltd., a unit of Neptune Orient Lines Ltd. All boxes on the vessel, the APL Korea, were cleared for delivery.

Container Volumes

Japan accounts for about 3 percent of global container volumes, compared with about 30 percent for China, according to Barclays Plc. It is the third-largest container shipper to the U.S. behind China and South Korea, with auto parts being the largest component of cargos, according to Piers, a shipping data unit of United Business Media Ltd.

The MOL Presence used a berth in Xiamen before leaving and anchoring offshore on March 23, according to the port bureau. There was contamination at the berth, the bureau said. China is Japan biggest export and import market, according to the Japan External Trade Organization.

Hapag-Lloyd has omitted port stops in Nagoya, Tokyo and Yokohama because of “the current situation,” it said in a statement on its website dated March 22. A March 25 update showed that it was continuing to avoid these ports. A Hapag-Lloyd spokesman couldn’t immediately be reached to comment.

Other lines are continuing business in Japan as usual. Seoul-base Hyundai Merchant Marine Co. is operating its usual services, Lee Jun Ki, a spokesman, said by phone today. STX Pan Ocean Co., South Korea’s biggest bulk carrier, is also operating its vessels normally at Japanese ports, said Lim Wang Joo, a spokesman.

APL is continuing its regular calls to Kobe and Yokohama, Mike Zampa, a spokesman said today by phone. The shipping line has directed vessels to stay 200 nautical miles from the Fukushima area, he said.

The company has also stopped taking bookings for cargos to be hauled by land or barge into “high risk” areas near the nuclear plant, he said.

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