Container explosion at Port of Los Angeles traces back to recycling facility
- A 40-foot shipping container exploded at the Port of Los Angeles late in the afternoon of Oct. 30 inside the Evergreen Terminal when a combustible substance ignited, according to a statement from the port. The port was evacuated and there were no injuries.
- The container in question came to the port from a nearby Terminal Island recycling facility with 11 other containers bound for Taiwan, all of which have been cleared as safe.
- "The involved container was not marked as containing hazardous materials and the manifest indicated clean scrap iron or heavy melting scrap only," read the statement. The investigation is ongoing.
Fires are fairly common in recycling facilities like the one where the exploded container originated. Whether the same factors played a role in this incident remains unclear.
In fact, Port Saint John in Florida experienced a similar explosion earlier this year. In September, the American Iron and Metal recycling facility, based in the west side of the port, "experienced a significant explosion" early in the morning, according to a port statement. The facility quickly identified the source, took action to notify its supplier, and pledged more stringent monitoring and to use technology to help avoid future incidents.
In 2017, waste facilities in the U.S. and Canada reported 289 fires and that number is expected to be higher this year. Changing climate conditions, the increase in lithium-ion batteries and stockpiling caused by China's import restrictions are factors that have lead to a rise in such fires, according to Fire Rover. Though the combustibles that cause these fires don't often cause similar catastrophes at ports.
Federal regulation has focused on the threat of explosives and harmful substances being sent to U.S. ports intentionally and efforts to scan containers for dangerous content, but Business Insider reports it is still very unevenly applied, as security checks tend to monitor inbound and not outgoing cargo.
"Procedures at the recycling facility will be reviewed by the Los Angeles Port Police, and the US Coast Guard will review their Facility Security Plan for which they have jurisdiction," the Port of Los Angeles said in its statement.
- The Port of Los Angeles Port of Los Angeles Statement on Container Incident
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