APL pulled some of its refrigerated containers from service and said Wednesday the remaining stock in its reefer fleet is safe as the company announced new safeguards following fatal accidents involving boxes that underwent maintenance in Vietnam.
The carrier, which handles around 50,000 refrigerated containers worldwide, grounded 103 of the containers for further inspection and put new restrictions on where its boxes can undergo maintenance.
“We have reviewed our inspection records and procedures and are fully confident that our refrigerated containers are safe and in cargo-worthy condition,” said Eric Eng, vice president of APL’s Global Refrigerated Trade. “But to allay concerns, we are adding new requirements, stepping up our inspection program and strengthening maintenance procedures.”
APL’s actions came as cargo handlers, carriers and terminal operators on the U.S. West Coast were putting refrigerated containers under special scrutiny because of explosions that killed three dockworkers at ports in recent months.
Industry officials have said the suspect containers appear to have undergone repairs in Vietnam, where it appears the boxes were refilled with a contaminated refrigerant gas.
APL says it is restricting maintenance and repair “to a smaller number of certified providers.”