Hanjin Shipping containers stacked up at the Port of Long Beach.

Hanjin Shipping containers stacked up at the Port of Long Beach. Photo by Ringo Chiu.

October cargo container volumes fell 6 percent at the Port of Long Beach compared to the same month last year, as fallout from the bankruptcy filing of Hanjin Shipping Co. continued.

A total of 581,808 20-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) moved through docks last month, down 6.2 percent from October 2015 levels. Total imports dropped 3.7 percent from last October, to 296,711 TEUs. Export TEUs were down 1.2 percent from last October to 126,770 TEUs.

The sharpest drop of all was in empty containers, which fell 13.8 percent in October to 158,327 TEUs as thousands of empty containers were stranded shoreside unable to move due to the Hanjin bankruptcy, which in turn tied up thousands of chassis that were needed to move other cargo containers. Earlier this month, a vessel from Emirates Shipping was brought in to finally transport 6,000 empty containers back to Asia.

Before it filed for bankruptcy on Aug. 31, South Korea’s Hanjin had been the seventh-largest cargo container mover in the world and was one of the most active shipping companies at the Port of Long Beach. Last year, Hanjin containers accounted for 12 percent of the port’s total containerized volume.

The bankruptcy’s impact was immediate, as total cargo container volume dropped 16.6 percent in September, followed by October’s drop.

But what’s been painful for the Port of Long Beach has proven a boon to the neighboring Port of Los Angeles, which on Monday reported a 16 percent jump in container volume during October. Port of Los Angeles spokesman Phillip Sanfield acknowledged that a significant portion of that increase was due to cargo containers that had been slated for Hanjin being rerouted on other shipping lines that called on the Port of Los Angeles.

Public policy and energy reporter Howard Fine can be reached at hfine@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @howardafine.

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