LA Port cargo breaks record – again – in September as authorities scramble to end mammoth backups – Daily News

on Oct20
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The Port of Los Angeles hit another record cargo month in September, bringing the port’s year-to-date growth to 26% over 2020.

The port, which this week is again besieged with a wave of ships carrying goods mostly from Asia, in September processed 903,865 TEUs — or Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units, the standard measurement used for containers. It was the busiest September in the port’s 114-year history.

So far this year, the port’s overall volume stands at 8.2 million TEUs. That’s a 26% increase compared to 2020.

The cargo surge that began in the summer of 2020 showed no sign of abating this week. On Tuesday, Oct. 19, there were 159 vessels in port for both the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, which sit side by side in the San Pedro Bay.

Nearly 100 of those ships — 96, to be precise — were “parked” at anchor outside the twin ports where they would wait for days before being called in for processing.

Additional data supplied by the Marine Exchange of Southern California showed that all outside anchorages were “essentially full,” including nine out of 10 off the coast of Huntington Beach. Holding areas, within 40 miles of the port, also saw 43 vessels as of Tuesday.

Overall, vessel numbers were categorized as “elevated” and hitting record levels, though a “slight decline” was expected through the rest of the week.

Because of the high volume of ships, cargo has stacked up on port docks quickly after being unloaded by longshore workers, leaving little room for the next ship until it can all be moved out.

But resolving the problem is complicated and will not happen quickly.

That’s because the supply chain quagmire is the result of holdups found throughout the system, including the process of moving freight out of ports to over-packed warehouses by truck or on-dock rail and, ultimately, to final destinations in a timely manner.

Port of L.A. Executive Director Gene Seroka said progress is being made on the rail backlog at the ports.

Work by BNSF and Union Pacific, he said, have cut that backlog in half over the past month and by two-thirds over the last two months.

“We’ve got more work to do but we’ve made significant progress,” he said in a written statement.

Meanwhile, loaded exports continue to drop, declining 42% over September 2020 to 75,714 TEUs. It was the lowest number of exports since 2002 and the ongoing drops are prompting an uptick in attention to try to turn the trend around.

Outgoing empty containers heading back to Asia — numbering 360,092 TEUs — rose 28% over September 2020. Finding space for those empties before they leave has led to other problems within the ports and in communities like Wilmington where the overflow has blocked some city streets. An unsecured container on a truck fell and crushed an empty, parked car on Anaheim Street earlier this week.

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