Further to our previous reports, five of the top six container shipping lines will continue to serve routes to Tokyo and Yokohama.
The news comes after the U.S. Navy issued an advisory saying that radiation from the leaking Fukushima power plant could be scrubbed off affected vessels with soap and water.
All CMA CGM-owned and chartered vessels will continue to call in Japan as scheduled, serving nine ports, none in the contaminated area.
Among the top six shippers, only Hapag-Lloyd AG (number four) is diverting vessels to docks in the south of the country, such as Kobe.
The German shipper told Bloomberg it would resume services to Nagoya, Japan’s third-container port"" title="Read more port technology news on largest container port">largest container port, though the moratorium on sailings to Tokyo and Yokohama will be lifted only when the locations are “considered safe,” adding that “security is above everything.”
The International Maritime Organization says operations in and out of Japan can continue as normal, with levels of radiation presenting no medical basis for imposing restrictions.
The Japanese government is allowing ships to sail as close as 30 kilometers to the reactors at the plant.
“These are extremely low levels and are easily cleaned off,” Commander Jeff Davis, a spokesman for US Navy Seventh Fleet, which is helping with recovery efforts, told Bloomberg yesterday. “Even if they weren’t, they still wouldn’t rise to the level where they would cause any harm to human health.”
Radiation on the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, and helicopters using the ship as a base was cleaned off after the vessel passed through a plume on March 13, the spokesman for the US Navy said, adding that there was both surface and air contamination.
“It’s absolutely possible to protect our people against the possible effects of radiation while carrying out our mission to help the Japanese people,” Davis told Bloomberg. “It is a risk that absolutely can be mitigated and managed.”
The US Navy is currently working with Japan’s Self-Defense Forces to clear harbors of wreckage from tsunami and helping deliver aid.
Cargos coming from Japan and/or passing within close proximity of the Fukushima site are also being scanned for radiation. Last week the MOL Presence was turned away from the Chinese port of Xiamen after passing more than 120 kilometers off the coast of Fukushima prefecture on March 16, Bloomberg reports.
The MOL Presence exhibited a maximum of 3.5 microsieverts per hour of radiation, operator Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. said late yesterday, citing a report from the Chinese authorities. Jack Edlow, whose Washington-based Edlow International Co. specializes in shipping radioactive materials, told Bloomberg the quantity is “barely detectable.”
The ship, which was loaded with 4,698 containers, is heading for Kobe, Japan, where Mitsui will arrange for another inspection, the Tokyo-based shipper said.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection scanned 355 boxes at the Port of Los Angeles on the first container ship to arrive from Japan following the quake, according to operator APL. All boxes on the vessel, the APL Korea, were cleared for delivery.
Tokyo port accounted for 22 percent of total container throughput in Japan last year. The seven container ports damaged in the March 11 tsunami disaster handled only 1.3 percent of Japanese container volumes last year, according to Alphaliner.