TOKYO, March 26 (UPI) -- International cargo shippers say they will avoid key ports in Japan while a threat of radiation contamination continues from a crippled nuclear power plant.
Several major shipping firms are avoiding Tokyo Bay, home of two major ports, Tokyo and Yokohama, The New York Times reported Saturday.
Fears of radiation contamination was ramped up this week when Chinese officials detected radiation on an inbound vessel that had sailed no closer than 80 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant 140 miles north of Tokyo that was damaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami event.
Some shipping lines are diverting shipments to ports south of Tokyo, while others have canceled stops in Japan altogether.
Shipping lines fear delays that have already become standard practice in ports that accept cargo from Japan.
Ports in China and Hong Kong say they will scan vessels and cargo from Japan for radiation. In Long Beach, Calif., Coast Guard officials boarded a ship from Japan and scanned it with hand held devices to assuage fears of longshoremen who wanted the scanning done before the ship got too close.
Japan may also see a buildup of unwanted containers. Some shipping lines dropping containers off in Japan are requiring customers buy them, because they don't want them back, the newspaper said.
"We put safety ahead of everything else," said Eva Gjersvik, senior director for communications at Hapag-Lloyd, a German shipping firm.