Ports of L.A., Long Beach can start fining shipping companies over container backlog

Local news

In an effort to ease an unprecedented backlog, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will now start fining shipping companies that slow down the unloading process.

Starting Monday, arriving containers scheduled to be moved by trucks will be allowed to stay for nine days before fines start accumulating. Containers set to move by rail can stay at the ports for only three days.

After that, ocean carriers will be charged $100 per container, increasing in $100 increments per container per day.

The Board of Harbor Commissioners for both Long Beach and Los Angeles approved the Container Excess Dwell Fee Friday. And although it goes into effect Monday, it won’t be assessed until Nov. 15.

“Containers that linger too long on the docks are delaying the berthing of vessels, leading to record numbers of ships waiting off the coast, and consumers and businesses across the U.S. left waiting for crucial shipments,” the Long Beach commissioners said.

Before the backlog, containers were typically left at terminals for less than four days. But recently, approximately 40% of containers are left for nine or more days, officials said.

Record demand for imported goods, labor shortages and other factors have contributed to the backlog of container ships, causing delays and threatening the U.S. economy and contributing to price increases. About 40% of all shipping containers entering the country come through the twin Los Angeles and Long Beach ports.

“This is the nation’s leading cargo gateway, and this crisis has national impacts. We need to take action to facilitate the rapid movement of cargo through the supply chain, and this plan will help,” Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero said. “Combined with our push for expanded hours of operation, more space for containers and other measures, we are determined to eliminate the backlog.”

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last month that $5 billion in loans will be available to help modernize the ports.

And, the ports have been working with President Joe Biden’s Supply Chain Disruption Task Force after the White House announced it would make the Ports of Los Angeles a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week operation in order to reduce shipping delays.

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