Ocean cargo movement of refrigerated containers curtailed due to explosions

The global supply chain of ocean containers is being held under scrutiny following a series of explosions linked to refrigerated boxes emanating from Vietnam.

By Patrick Burnson · November 3, 2011

The global supply chain of ocean containers is being held under scrutiny following a series of explosions linked to refrigerated boxes emanating from Vietnam.

Maersk Line, which is part of the World Shipping Council’s Safe Transport of Containers Working Group, first brought attention to the fact that four reefers coming from Southeast Asia had exploded for no apparent reason. Three mechanics have been killed, causing dockworkers to cease discharging the boxes until the risk can be identified.

“North American-based shipping industry officials, in conjunction with governmental agencies including the United States Coast Guard, have conducted a comprehensive review to determine the source of the problem and isolate and repair at-risk containers,” said Jim McKenna, president of the Pacific Maritime Association, (PMA).

McKenna added that all indications point to maintenance work conducted on refrigerated units processed at the Port of Kat Lai in Vietnam. As a precaution, all refrigerated containers that were either transported through or originated in any port in Vietnam are being identified upon arrival at West Coast ports in the United States and those that have been worked on in Kat Lai isolated for special handling.

“The PMA is working with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) locals along the coast on agreements that protect workers while keeping the ports operating. Already, an agreement at the nation’s largest port complex in Southern California is in place, and the PMA continues to work with locals at other ports, including Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma,” said McKenna. “Employee safety and well-being are our top concern.”


About the Author

Patrick Burnson
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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