* China rejected MOL's ship, citing abnormal radiation
* MOL's ship expected to arrive at port of Kobe on Wednesday
(Adds industry reaction)
By Chikako Mogi and Randy Fabi
TOKYO/SINGAPORE, March 29 Mitsui O.S.K. Lines
has not yet decided what it will do with its container
ship when it returns to Japan this week, a company official said
on Tuesday, after China rejected the vessel for "abnormal"
The MOL Presence is the first ship barred from unloading its
cargo at a foreign port over radiation concerns since Japan's
Fukushima nuclear plant was crippled by the March 11 earthquake,
a spokesman for the Japanese Shipowners Association said.
Governments, including China and the United States, have
begun screening for radiation on ships that travelled from
Japan's quake-hit northeast, threatening to slow seaborne trade
for the world's third largest economy.
"The container ship is expected to arrive in the port of
Kobe on Wednesday," said a spokeswoman for MOL, the world's 11th
largest container shipper. "The travel plan on when or whether
the container ship will depart Kobe is not decided as of now."
If radiation levels are confirmed to be too high on the
vessel, MOL may be forced to dispose of the machinery, furniture
and other cargo on the ship and reimburse its clients since
insurance companies do not cover radiation exposure linked to
nuclear accidents, industry experts said.
The vessel would also need to be thoroughly cleaned before
it can set sail again.
Chinese authorities detected a maximum of 3.5 microsieverts
per hour on MOL's ship when it arrived at the port of Xiamen in
eastern Fujian province last week, the company
That is above the global average of naturally occurring
background radiation, but half of the cosmic radiation
experienced on a Tokyo-New York flight. [ID:nL3E7ER02S]
The Chinese standard level was not disclosed.
The MOL Presence originated in California, stopping in Tokyo
for only a few hours on March 17 before arriving in China four
days later, port authorities said.
Ports in Tokyo Bay, located 240 km (150 miles) south of the
Fukushima nuclear plant, remain outside the exclusion zone for
most shipping companies.
However, at least three container firms -- Germany's
Hapag-Lloyd , Claus-Peter Offen and Hong Kong's Orient
Overseas Container Line -- have widened their "no-go"
area to more than double the industry norm to include Tokyo Bay.
"At this point, there is no change to our shipping schedule,
including location of the ports we call at," the MOL's
spokeswoman said. She said this is the first case a Mitsui ship
was turned back.
Radiation levels as of late Monday in Tokyo Bay ports were
considered "very safe", Japan's transport ministry said on its
"Thus far, the flow of traffic to and from Japan
has not been impacted by radiation fears," said a U.S.-based
"Although some owners have been reluctant to trade cargoes
to Japan, there have been sufficient owners willing to do so and
that has minimized the impact."
(Additional reporting by Joshua Schneyer in New York; Editing
by Himani Sarkar)