Saturday, April 9, 2011

Container Ship Told To Clean Off Radiation Before Unloading Freight Cargo

Hong Kong Now Allows Entry for Vessel which Exceeded Maximum Levels
Shipping News Feature

JAPAN - CHINA – At around 1800 hours on the 16th March, some four days after the Japanese earthquake, the Mitsui OSK (MOL) line vessel MOL Presence passed just within 125 kilometres of the Fukushima No.1 Nuclear Power Plant en route to Tokyo from Oakland, California. No-one realised at that time that the vessel and her 4000 or so containers loaded with freight were being inadvertently subjected to abnormally high radiation levels. On the 15th March the Japanese Coast Guard issued a precautionary notification for vessels to avoid the area by only 30 Kilometres and a similar US notice advised a 80 kilometre exclusion zone.

The ship called in to Tokyo as planned and set sail for the Port of Xiamen in China at around half past seven on the evening of the 17th March. There a quarantine inspection at the port in Fujian Province on the 22nd March detected abnormally high readings and a further re-measurement on the 26th March caused the Chinese port authorities to issue a statement that: “A maximum of 3.5 micro sieverts per hour radiation was detected on board, which is a higher level than the allowable maximum under the present standard, therefore the vessel must be cleaned to reduce the radiation before it can be allowed to off-load its cargo at the port.”

No further inspection was allowed and the ship was forced to sail on the 27th March arriving at Kobe on the 30th where the MOL Presence was again inspected, this time by Nippon Kaiji Kentei Kyokai (NKKK), a specialist Japanese marine survey company which has been established for just short of a century. This company is sole inspection institute in Japan assigned to survey extremely hazardous cargo situations and is assigned by the Japanese Safety Agency amongst other official bodies to undertake works of this nature.

MOL tell us that the report issued by NKKK showed radiation levels significantly lower than those detected by the Chinese authorities. The vessel left for Hong Kong on the 1st April and, after arriving offshore yesterday received permission to call into the port there. As a result of inspection by the Hong Kong port authority, radiation safety was confirmed and the vessel has received permission to berth and conduct cargo operations.

Photo: The MOL Presence Singapore flagged, 23 crew (Indian) and 71,776 dwt.