Friday, November 12, 2010

SoCal Ports See Trio of Safety and Law Enforcement Incidents

Safety and law enforcement officials have been busy at the Southern California ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, with three incidents requiring action occurring in the space of three days.

On Sunday night, a vessel refueling at the Port of Long Beach spilled between 500 and 3,000 gallons of bunker fuel into the port's back channel, according to the US Coast Guard. While the bulk carrier Da Tang 18 and the fueling barge were boomed, fuel did reach outside the boomed area. Federal and state officials placed a temporary fishing ban on the area, which was eventually lifted by Tuesday. The cause of the spill is under investigation.

A second incident took place Monday morning at the neighboring Port of Los Angeles when the arriving vessel Maersk Sophia reported three containers located below decks were leaking chemicals. Officials found that the containers were leaking hydrogen and cyanamid, both potential airborne threats to human health. Clean up of the three containers was completed by Monday afternoon and port officials said there were no injuries or delays to other vessels.

The third incident took place Tuesday when US Customs and Border Protection officers were called to the Los Angeles port to take six Chinese stowaways aboard an arriving Japanese auto carrier into custody. The stowaways were discovered aboard the vessel on Sunday and held aboard ship until the vessel arrived at the port. A search of the vessel by CBP officers turned up no other stowaways. A CBP spokesman said it was unclear if the six stowaways would be returned to China.