Cargo Business Newswire ArchivesSummary for May 23 through May 27, 2016:
Monday, May 23, 2016
Last container ship service to call the Port of Portland this weekend
Photo credit: Jamie Francis/The Oregonian
The Port of Portland will see its last container ship service this Saturday, when Westwood Shipping Lines makes its final call, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The Washington-based ocean carrier has been running a monthly service at the port's single container terminal, hauling about 150 containers of cardboard and agricultural goods to destinations in Japan and Korea. On Wednesday, the port announced that Saturday would be Westwood's last day.
It's been about a year since Hapag-Lloyd and Hanjin Shipping canceled their weekly services. Those services and Westwood's together each month handled about 8,000 to 9,000 TEUs.
This puts local exporters, who had long used the port to get goods to Asia customers, in more of a bind. Many of the agriculture companies in Oregon have already been sending goods out through the the ports of Seattle and Tacoma since the other shipping lines have left Portland, but some said they have been holding out hopes for a return to direct service.
Small and midsize ports like Portland are facing challenges as big carriers have formed alliances and are deploying supersized ships that only the largest ports can accommodate. Portland's harbor is only deep enough to handle ships that carry about 6,000-6,500 TEUs — one third the load of the largest vessels calling U.S. ports. Just two years ago, the Port of Portland moved about 130,000 TEUs full of goods. So far this year, it has moved less than 1,000 TEUs.
A representative for Westwood didn't respond to a request for comment. According to port officials, the monthly service was no longer financially viable for the carrier.
Port officials say they still hope to recruit another container cargo carrier to call at Portland. The port has identified a handful of potential operators but many are concerned about the ongoing tension between the port's dockworkers and its container terminal operator, which has caused delays in handling goods for much of the past two years.
Carriers want to make deal with ports on SOLAS mandate
The Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association (OCEMA), a group representing 18 ocean carriers, said Thursday it will work with six major U.S. ports to come up with a solution to help exporters comply with a new container-weighing safety measure.
The Wall Street Journal said the organization filed an agreement with the Federal Maritime Commission to begin discussions with port authorities in South Carolina, Georgia, Houston, and others to create a standard for ports and cargo terminals to provide weighing services to exporters, OCEMA said in a release. OCEMA says it must have the commission's approval for agreements before ocean carriers and ports can officially start developing a plan.
The agreement follows months of conflict over a new requirement adopted by the United Nations' International Maritime Organization requiring shippers report the weight of containers loaded onto ships, rather than just the goods inside. The rule, which goes into effect July 1 as an amendment to the Safety of Life at Sea Convention, or SOLAS, is meant to prevent accidents that have caused stacks of containers to tip over, damaging and even sinking ships.
Shippers worry that, without assistance from the carriers and ports to verify container weights, the extra mileage and storage costs in addition to lost time, could damage their businesses.
The Port of Charleston in South Carolina has already said they would offer a paid service to shippers to help them with weighing, so containers wouldn't have to be hauled to a scale before reaching the port. The Georgia Ports Authority, which manages the Port of Savannah, has said it would weigh the containers at no cost. The new agreement with OCEMA may result in similar actions by ports or terminals if the pact clears up questions over which party is liable in case of accidents involving the containers.
"We'll try and come to some sort of common way of doing it to make it more streamlined for those ports that are participating," but it will "be up to each individual port and terminal location to determine how it will work," said Stacey Normington, OCEMA's administrator for the agreement. "The idea is to make this process as seamless as possible, and work to make it easier for the shippers to comply."
West Coast Ports, as well as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, weren't part the agreement announced Thursday. Normington said the group has an existing agreement with West Coast ports under which it can discuss possible solutions, but would have to file a separate agreement with the FMC to have similar discussion with New York and New Jersey.
S.C. Ports Authority reports on cargo increase, SOLAS
The South Carolina Ports Authority reported a 2.8 percent increase in container volume for the fiscal year-to-date, handling 1.6 million TEUs since July 2015.
SCPA moved 157,959 TEUs in April, bringing SCPA's calendar year-to-date container volume to 631,753 TEUs.
"April loaded container volumes were slightly below last year, a trend we're seeing consistently in the reported volumes across the major East Coast ports," said Jim Newsome, SCPA president and CEO. "This trend is reflective of the fact that the overall container trade is tepid. We expect May to be the strongest month thus far this year and will see benefits in the next few months from the upsizing of vessels in response to the Panama Canal expansion. Container lines will soon need to deploy 8,000 TEU ships and above to ports with the right mix of attributes to handle those vessels."
The port authority said on-containerized cargo volume at the Port of Charleston was strong in April, with 74,915 pier tons handled. Charleston's breakbulk volume is 32 percent ahead of plans for the fiscal year, with 746,460 tons moved from July through April.
Inland Port Greer handled 8,182 rail moves in last month. The facility has handled 75,214 lifts since July, bringing fiscal year-to-date moves 54 percent higher than the same period last year.
Regarding the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) regulations, the port said it will provide shipping lines with the long-used terminal scale weights from certified scales as verified gross mass (VGM). The port said it has withdrawn its proposed $25 fee for direct provision of weights to shippers, as this charge will no longer be necessary.
"This has been a long-accepted best practice in our port that has allowed the safe loading of vessels, and it should be continued in the overall interest of safety and efficiency," Newsome said.
Matson Logistics launches LCL Service from China to New York
Matson Logistics Supply Chain Services is expanding its less-than-container-load (LCL) capabilities by offering direct fast transit from China to the New York and New Jersey markets.
The service is based on Matson's China-Long Beach Express (CLX) service, which it says offers the fastest transit times in the trans-Pacific trade, and partners with JAD International for expedited coast-to-coast transport.
The new service provides:
LCL freight receipt at origin CFS locations in Shanghai, Dalian, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Ningbo, Qingdao, Shenzhen, Tianjin, and Xiamen.
Weekly Matson sailings from Shanghai via Long Beach to New York/New Jersey. Shanghai to NY/NJ in 14 days with cargo availability Thursday afternoons.
Convenient CFS facility in Elizabeth, NJ to ensure fast availability and deliveries.
Service options include origin pick-up and expedited door delivery at destination.
"We listened to our clients' needs and in collaboration with JAD International, we are proud to bring this premium service to the market," said Jeffrey Ivinski, director of sales and marketing for Matson Logistics Supply Chain Services. "Matson created an alternative to costly air freight to the West Coast and now we are bringing expedited service to the important New York metro market."
Customs finds Cuban stowaways in cargo ship at Port Everglades
Three people were caught hiding on a cargo ship coming from Cuba to South Florida.
Port Everglades spokesperson Ellen Kennedy said three Cuban nationals were found by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials hiding in an auto carrier aboard a cargo ship Friday. The cargo ship was carrying movie equipment for the movie "Fast and Furious 8" from Cuba to Port Everglades.
Customs public information officer Migdalia Artega confirmed that three Cuban nationals were confirmed but did not identify them due to privacy laws.
The Wall Street Journal reports that merger talks between German container line Hapag-Lloyd and United Arab Shipping Co. are progressing well, and the companies will likely combine by the end of the summer, two people involved in the matter said.
"It's a win-win situation and talks are ticking along quite well," one of the people said. "Unless there is a last-minute snag, we will have a marriage by August."
Hapag-Lloyd and UASC said in April they were in preliminary talks based on valuations that would give Hapag shareholders 72 percent ownership of any combined firm, and holders of UASC the rest. They are currently the world's sixth- and 10th-biggest container operators in terms of capacity, and a merged entity would be the fifth-biggest.
"The combined company will be worth around $9 billion," the second person said.
The talks come amid a wave of consolidation sweeping a container-shipping industry that is squeezed by overcapacity, slowed global growth and low freight rates. Operators have been scrambling to form alliances — broad operational partnerships that have allowed them to cut costs without a full-blown merger or takeover.
Most of the world's top dozen operators are part of alliances, the most recent of which includes Hapag-Lloyd and was completed earlier this month. UASC and debt-ridden Korean line Hyundai Merchant Marine Co. were the only two left out of the new groupings.
Their exclusion raised questions about their ability to compete effectively in the world's most lucrative ocean trade routes.
"UASC's choice is to pump billions to build up its own fleet and network in a largely futile attempt to compete globally on its own, become a regional Middle East carrier or merge with Hapag-Lloyd and be part of the global alliance that the Germans lead," said Lars Jensen, chief executive of Copenhagen-based SeaIntelligence Consulting. "UASC's holders have always wanted a global presence, so the merger with Hapag-Lloyd is really the only option."
Long Beach port commission to approve labor contract for construction projects
Union contractors may have an advantage when applying for roughly $717 million worth of Port of Long Beach projects expected to be accomplished over the next five years.
The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners said it would vote Monday on a port-wide project labor agreement, a deal that would give an official preference to union workers in exchange for labor's promise to refrain from striking or other activities that may delay construction projects around the Port of Long Beach. The board, which sets port policy, is also scheduled to vote on a budget for the coming fiscal year.
The port has already enacted project labor agreements that laid out contracting rules for the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement project and different phases of the Middle Harbor Project, the latter being an extensive renovation of port facilities leased to Long Beach Container Terminal.
The deal, which would be made with the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Trades Council, would set hiring and arbitration rules for port contractors and unions. The deal allows non-union contractors to have five "core" employees working on projects, but would otherwise require workers to have union representation.
Hiring objectives laid out in the deal call for 40 percent of the covered project hours be performed by Los Angeles/Orange County residents. The deal also sets the goals of having 10 percent of work hours to be accomplished by veterans and 15 percent of job hours to go to disadvantaged workers, which refers to people enduring difficulties including homelessness, unemployment, or living on public benefits.
Harbor commissioners are also scheduled to vote on a budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.
The proposal outlines $768 million worth of spending for the Long Beach Harbor Department, which runs the port, and would allocate more than $493 million to capital projects there.
S.C. port head says CSX terminal welcome if N.C. doesn't work out
If a planned CSX Corporation terminal, called the Carolina Connector (CCX), fails to move forward in North Carolina, there's another state willing to take it on.
"If they don't want it in North Carolina, we'll happily take it in South Carolina," says Jim Newsome, CEO of the South Carolina Ports Authority, in an interview.
It's already been a good year for logistics in South Carolina. Weeks ago, Newsome's organization announced it was in talks to build a second inland port in Dillon, South Carolina. The port – a freight-handling facility – could help the Port of Charleston grab cargo business moving out of North Carolina along CSX Corporation's rail lines that, without the facility, keep moving south to the Port of Savannah.
Dillon would be the second inland port for South Carolina in recent years, after the South Carolina Inland Port opened in Greer in 2013, providing overnight service, and expanding logistics capabilities of a state known for manufacturing.
All this as CSX continues to ponder a separate project in Johnston County – a terminal to transport cargo between trains and trucks. Like South Carolina, officials in North Carolina see massive potential in the terminal.
Newsome says more logistics traffic along I-95 would benefit South Carolina, too, adding that he's seen first-hand how massive logistics facilities can boost the surrounding region.
"Customers want to locate near intermodal rail terminals, specifically Fortune 500 companies, because it's a more efficient way to move freight," he says, pointing to Greer's inland port, where BMW built a warehouse and retailer Dollar Tree just opened a 1.5 million-square-foot distribution center.
IMO committee grants 3-month grace period for container weight mandate
The International Maritime Organization, trying to quiet industry fears over impending rules that might trigger big backups at ports, is recommending a three-month grace period for enforcing the Safety of Life at Sea convention, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The IMO's Maritime Safety Committee said in a statement Monday that government agencies should postpone enforcement of the requirement that shippers verify the weight of containers before they can be loaded, in order to give operators more time to put together the systems needed to meet the mandate.
The IMO, the arm of the United Nations that regulates shipping safety, said it recognizes the concerns raised about the new rule, which will require shippers to report the "verified gross mass" of every container before it's loaded onto a ship, starting July 1.
Drewry Shipping Consultants released a survey of shipping customers and providers on Monday that showed "much confusion" over how the requirements can be met, and a strong belief that exports will be delayed.
The IMO said in its statement that "some leeway" on enforcement would give companies time to refine procedures and work out any problems, such as glitches in new software being developed by carriers to electronically collect weight information.
On Monday, the Port of Seattle released a draft environmental impact statement for the upgrade of Terminal 5, and opened about a month's worth of public comment.
"We have to be ... at the top of our game if we hope that the Puget Sound will continue to be a competitive gateway," said John Creighton, NWSA co-chair and Port of Seattle Commission president.
Creighton said modernizing Terminal 5, at a cost of roughly $200 million, is crucial to keep up with an industry trending toward fewer, bigger ships.
"It's a constant arms race in the industry," Creighton said.
The Ports of Seattle and Tacoma now collaborate as the Northwest Seaport Alliance. The Puget Sound ports face increasing competition from Prince Rupert, British Columbia, and even the East Coast, as a wider Panama Canal means bigger ships will be able to go there directly.
The port proposes dredging by Terminal 5, strengthening the pier and upgrading the power to handle larger cranes.
The port does not yet have a contract with a company to run the terminal.
"It is a bit of a gamble," said Jordan Royer, who represents terminal operators and shippers for the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association.
But Royer said the investment is critical.
"One thing is guaranteed: If you don't make it big ship ready, you won't get any big ships," Royer said.
In Tacoma, Husky Terminal is approved for big-ship expansion and is expected to be ready in 2018.
Public hearings on renovating Terminal 5 are planned for June 7 in Georgetown and June 9 in West Seattle.
Georgia approves $7.5 million to build joint Jasper terminal on Savannah River
Georgia officials have approved $7.5 million to be spent over the next three years toward building a new port terminal on the Savannah River that the state would operate in partnership with South Carolina.
The Georgia Ports Authority approved the funding Monday as part of its fiscal 2017 budget. Curtis Foltz, the agency's executive director, called it a "huge step" for the proposed Jasper Ocean Terminal. Located on the South Carolina side of the Savannah River not far from downtown Savannah, the project is expected to cost $4.5 billion and would take more than a decade to build.
South Carolina has already set aside money for their part of the port funding. In three years the states will need to kick in an additional $50 million to $100 million each for engineering, design and further environmental work, according to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution.
Both Georgia and South Carolina say the joint port terminal would give them needed room for expansion after the ports of Savannah and Charleston eventually run out of space.
Iran took a step closer to Asian nations India and Afghanistan as it looks to recover from a decade of international sanctions.
The Persian Gulf nation signed a three-nation agreement on Monday to develop its southern Chabahar port, a project first proposed in 2003 that had been suspended following the tightening of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan leader Ashraf Ghani visited Tehran to finalize the deal.
"With our joint investments in Chabahar we can connect India through a reliable route to Afghanistan and countries in Central Asia," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised press conference with the two leaders. "The agreement today is not only an economic document: It's also a political and a regional one."
Speaking earlier in the Iranian capital, Modi said his country will open a $500-million line of credit to develop the port, located on Iran's Gulf of Oman coast, into a regional trading hub. About a fifth of the oil consumed globally each day passes through the Strait of Hormuz, a shipping choke point that separates the Persian Gulf from the Gulf of Oman and Indian Ocean.
Governor Christie vetoed a series of bills Monday, including a package of reforms for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey as well as a measure that would require domestic-violence offenders to surrender their firearms.
Lawmakers in New Jersey and New York have been pushing for years to increase their control over the Port Authority, a massive agency that runs the region's seaports, airports and major bridges.
After the George Washington Bridge lane-closure scandal uncovered wrongdoing at the top levels of the Port Authority, the state legislatures of New Jersey and New York passed a package of reforms meant to increase transparency and oversight at the transportation agency.
Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, vetoed those reforms in 2014.
On Monday, Christie vetoed a revised version of the bill.
Christie said in a veto message that the legislation granted special protections to unionized workers, "insulating and protecting union employees from cooperating with inspector general investigations."
He also criticized "redundant and costly burdens" in the bill, S-708. Christie said it "would force the Port Authority to hire an independent engineering firm to monitor every capital project that exceeds $500 million which represents the majority of such projects.
"However, the Port Authority already selectively audits construction projects for engineering proficiency and financial responsibility," Christie said.
Christie said state lawmakers should approve a less aggressive reform package that Cuomo signed into law in New York in January. In New Jersey, that bill is sponsored by Sen. Tom Kean Jr., R-Union. Both states must approve identical legislation regarding the Port Authority before it takes effect.
Trucking Trends: When Is a Broker a Shipper? New FDA rules redefine the roles of food transporters
By Mark Montague, DAT Solutions
When is a broker a shipper? Or a carrier?
The Final Rule for the Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food, published in the Federal Register on April 7, has created a bit of an identity crisis for people and companies responsible for the transport of human and animal food.
The new regulation requires shippers, loaders, freight carriers, and receivers to use a range of sanitary practices to ensure food safety during transport.
The intent is pretty straightforward: ensure that food does not become unsafe during transportation operations.
The confusion is in how the FDA defines the roles of those involved. Specifically, the FDA rule has changed the definition of "shipper."
According to the regulation, a shipper is the person who arranges for the transportation of food by a carrier or multiple carriers sequentially.
Practically speaking, the "shipper" definition would apply to freight brokers as well, making them equally responsible for ensuring food safety during transport.
A Big Change?
Many brokers consider the FDA rule to be a backward step, in that the lines between shipper, broker, and carrier are once again blurred.
Lindsey Graves, vice president of operations for Sunset Transportation in St. Louis, says it's up to brokers to make the distinction clear. She compares the new FDA rules to what brokers faced when CSA scores were first published.
"We had processes for qualifying carriers that we'd been doing from day one," she says. "But CSA forced us to develop a more in-depth internal policy that was documented and standardized so that every person used the same process."
She and other brokers say the FDA rule will require a similar approach to formalizing responsibilities for food transport.
Rob LaForte owns and manages Columbia Fresh Transportation Services, a small freight brokerage in Portland, Ore. He says the new rule will cause him to get more documentation from his shipper customers. He's planning to create a form for shippers to fill out that specifies the requirements for each load.
"Some of our customers are very specific about the requirements for their produce while others may simply call and say, 'Hey, I have a load of potatoes that needs to go from here to there,'" says LaForte. "They might not even specify the temperature, assuming I would know all that."
LaForte said he won't need to change his processes much to comply with the new rules, because 98 percent of his loads are refrigerated produce. However, he says, the rule could be significant for brokerages that transport food only occasionally.
"They may need to decide whether transporting food is worth the risk and the additional paperwork," he says.
Insurance could be another problem. "I'm not aware of an insurance product that would cover a broker in the event of food contamination," LaForte said. "Brokers carry contingent cargo insurance, but that wouldn't cover them if someone became seriously ill because of contamination."
Communicate with Carriers
If you move food, or you're brokering a load to an outside carrier, now is the time to review your standard contract agreement and perhaps add verbiage that addresses the new requirements, which include equipment standards and documentation.
The new rules will require extra effort for all parties involved. The shipper will need to detail all the requirements and pass that on to the broker, who will then pass the information on to the carrier. No matter how blurry the rules may be, these roles need to be more sharply defined than ever.
Mark Montague is industry rate analyst for DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT® network of load boards and RateView rate-analysis tool. He has applied his expertise to logistics, rates, and routing for more than 30 years. Mark is based in Portland, Ore. For information, visit www.dat.com.
Long Beach head: Container shipping industry will struggle for 1-2 more years
Cheap credit and low fuel prices are propping up weak players and delaying the mergers and alliances needed to resolve the crisis in the container shipping industry, said Jon Slangerup, CEO of Long Beach, in an interview in Geneva.
"There are going to be some lingering weak players and it will take some time to sort out," Slangerup said, after meeting shipping clients in Copenhagen, Hamburg and Geneva. "It will be a year or two. A year for some, two for others."
Slowing demand in China and Europe combined with a glut of container ships has pushed down freight prices, and last month Drewry Maritime Equity Research projected industry losses of $6 billion in 2016. Long Beach is being hurt by the fallout as cargo volumes slumped 22 percent in April after CMA CGM SA shifted some business to neighboring Los Angeles, the busiest U.S. port, following its acquisition of Singapore's Neptune Orient Lines.
"Even though we had a very good first quarter and we had a very good last year, our second quarter will be very weak," said Slangerup. "We are in the middle of all this musical chairs so volumes are shifting dynamically as we speak."
Volumes at the port, which derives more than 90 percent of its business from trade with Asia, should normalize in the third quarter, he said. Cargo increased 6.1 percent in the first quarter, following a 5.4 percent gain in 2015.
As interest rates and fuel prices rise, mergers and alliances designed to cut costs by sharing ships should proliferate, said Slangerup, a former FedEx Corp. executive.
An alliance between the world's two biggest container shipping lines, A.P. Moeller-Maersk of Copenhagen and Mediterranean Shipping Co. of Geneva, represents the "gold standard" for the industry, Slangerup said. In April, CMA CGM signed a preliminary agreement with three other shipping lines to form what could be the second-ranked grouping, the Ocean Alliance.
Hapag-Lloyd AG, Germany's top container shipping line, and five Asian carriers said this month they will form a new vessel-sharing alliance to take on bigger rivals. The grouping includes South Korea's Hanjin Shipping Co., whose shares have declined 50 percent this year.
Slangerup said there could be further consolidation in the South Korean shipping industry as Hanjin and Hyundai Merchant Marine Co., which is working with creditors to restructure its debt, are both struggling.
"The South Koreans are in trouble," Slangerup said. "They are competitors but it would not surprise me if they were forced to join together as one."
The port hopes to serve as a "facilitator of change" to bring together clients in alliances and mergers that will allow them to share not only ships but also information about container freight demand and availability, Slangerup said.
"Pain is a great teacher," he said. "It has really begun to bring people together in ways that it hasn't done in the past."
The Board of Harbor Commissioners approved a plan last week to expand the Port of Long Beach's use of locally hired, disadvantaged and veteran workers for more than $700 million in construction projects.
Under the new Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council, at least 40 percent of the work on Port construction projects must be done by local residents (Los Angeles and Orange counties), 15 percent by disadvantaged workers and 10 percent by veterans. The PLA also encourages apprenticeship and training programs, and establishes hiring programs such as job fairs near project sites.
The five-year agreement covers $717 million in Port infrastructure projects including rail improvements, terminal redevelopment and public safety buildings.
"I am so pleased that the agreement approved by the Harbor Commission ensures that the Port is reaching out to local residents and disadvantaged workers to create good-paying opportunities," said Harbor Commission President Lori Ann Guzmán. "And for the first time, we've added outreach to veterans. This agreement ensures ample, well-qualified workers on Port projects and is a win-win for our city and region."
The new PLA builds on the successes of the Port's existing labor pacts affecting $1.6 billion in construction projects during the past five years, and resulting in more than 5,300 local jobs. The existing pacts cover the Middle Harbor terminal modernization and Gerald Desmond Bridge replacement projects.
Crowley announces $21M construction contract for upgrades to Puerto Rico port
Crowley Puerto Rico Services announced an additional $21 million construction contract for upgrades at Puerto Rico's Isla Grande port terminal in San Juan. It is the latest in a series of investments in support of the trade meant to improve Crowley's terminal and shipping operations in the commonwealth.
The construction contract was awarded to Del Valle Group, S.P. of Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, and includes expanding the terminal's capacity for handling refrigerated containers; paving 15 acres to accommodate container stacking; installing a new electrical substation to provide power for three new ship-to-shore gantry cranes; constructing a new seven-lane terminal exit gate, and installing hardware required for a new, state-of-the-art terminal operating software system.
The contract is the third award associated with Crowley's investment in its Isla Grande terminal in preparation for the arrival next year of the first of Crowley's two new liquefied natural gas (LNG)-powered, Commitment Class ships now under construction in Pascagoula, Miss.
"We are very pleased to have this final contract awarded as part of the transformation of our terminal at Isla Grande," said Jose "Pache" Ayala, Crowley vice president, Puerto Rico. "The improvements being made to the terminal will provide customers with faster gate times and overall shorter turn times for truckers in and out of the terminal. The overall improved efficiency we will be able to achieve will further enhance the excellent service our customers already receive."
Crowley has served the Puerto Rico market from the 75-acre Isla Grande terminal since 1954, longer than any other Jones Act carrier in the trade. The company, with over 250 Puerto Rico employees, is also the top ocean carrier between the island commonwealth and the U.S. mainland with more weekly sailings and more cargo carried annually than any other shipping line.
Norfolk Southern train derails in Indiana
Crews on Tuesday were dealing with a 15-car derailment in the center of South Whitley, Indiana, which happened late Monday and temporarily forced some residents from their homes.
Norfolk Southern Railroad spokesman Dave Pidgeon said there were no injuries, but two of the rail cars contained hazardous materials. One of the vehicles hauled hydrogen peroxide and the other carried molten phenol, which is used in household and industrial products, but neither leaked.
Five to six cars, including tankers, were strewn beside or along the tracks next to a grain elevator, but none of the cars hit any buildings. Additional cars were strewn along the tracks through the town, and crossing signals were also torn out as the train continued through town after the first cars derailed.
Some residents reported hearing several booms when the derailment occurred, but late Tuesday morning life seemed normal, with people going about their business, not paying much attention to the extensive wreckage along the tracks in the middle of town and not bothered by the closed railroad crossings.
"The cause of the derailment is under investigation, but on incidents like these we are required to provide what we believe was the cause to the Federal Railroad Administration," Pidgeon said. "We have to submit our findings by the end of June."
The derailment took place about 10:40 p.m. near the North State Street crossing in the downtown area, Pidgeon said. He said 10 of the rail cars were empty and five were loaded.