Recycling Facility Shipping Container Explodes at Port of Los Angeles

(Photo Credit: Port of Los Angeles)

by | Nov 5, 2018

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shipping container

(Photo Credit: Port of Los Angeles)

A 40-foot shipping container from a recycling facility in LA that was bound for Taiwan exploded at Port of Los Angeles. Investigators say the container arrived along with 11 others from a recycling facility on Terminal Island carrying scrap metal, according to port officials.

The explosion occurred right before 6 pm local time on October 30 at the port’s Evergreen Terminal near the base of the Vincent Thomas Bridge, Maritime Executive reported. Officials evacuated that terminal and closed adjacent roads. There were no reports of injuries, the outlet said.

“Photos from the scene showed the wreckage of a blue container mounted on a truck chassis,” Maritime Executive reported. “Officials said that no truck was attached to the load at the time of the blast.”

Port officials established unified command with port and city police, the fire department, the US Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, the FBI, as well as container terminal management and labor union representatives.

A dozen containers had arrived at the port earlier in the day from a recycling facility and were supposed to be shipped to Taiwan. The container that exploded was only supposed to be filled with clean scrap iron or heavy melting scrap, based on the manifest.

“Preliminary analysis by the Los Angeles Port Police Hazardous Materials Unit, Los Angeles Police Department Bomb Squad, and United States Coast Guard indicates that a form of combustible fuel or other compound was ignited in the sealed container,” according to the port’s official statement. “A thorough investigation continues.”

Other shipping containers were checked to make sure there was no additional danger, the Associated Press reported. Port Police Deputy Chief Randy Allen told the news outlet that it was an industrial accident.

The explosion happened during a year that has seen a drastic increase in waste and recycling industry fires. Over the summer, scrap metal and recycling fire security expert Ryan Fogelman charted 377 unique reported waste and recycling facility fire incidents in Canada and the US between June 2017 and June 2018.

While Fogelman didn’t have a definitive answer for the drastic increase in fires, one possible reason he mentioned is China’s restrictions on waste and recycling. “Due to lack of a market, we are experiencing an increase in the amount of material inventory across the globe,” he wrote. That, in turn, could result in dangerous pileups.

Once the shipping container investigation in Los Angeles concludes, the results will go to the Harbor Commission and be made public, port officials say.

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