Maersk says ships to avoid Japan reactor area

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 21, 2011 11:25 AM
Maersk says ships to avoid Japan reactor area

LONDON (Reuters) - Danish shipping and oil group A.P. Moller-Maersk said on Thursday its vessels would not enter or pass through an offshore area close to an overheating nuclear plant in Japan.

"We have defined an exclusion zone -- off shore from the Fukushima nuclear power plant -- where vessels are not to enter or transit," said Maersk group press officer Michael Christian Storgaard.

"As long as it is considered safe, Maersk vessels will continue to call Japan."

He added that the exclusion zone was a minimum of 30 km. "We are monitoring the situation and it might change."

Japan's Fukushima nuclear complex has been torn apart by four explosions since an earthquake and tsunami hit on March 11 and has been emitting radiation.

Russian state-owned shipping group Sovcomflot said it had not made any major changes to Japan routes so far.

"We ... have a direct line to (Russian state nuclear corporation) Rosatom, are monitoring the radiation levels and are coordinating any changes to routes with the charterers," said Yevgeny Ambrosov, first deputy general director at Sovcomflot.

Last week's earthquake and tsunami hit Japanese ports, although shipping companies expect to use other terminals not disrupted by the disaster.

(Reporting by Jonathan Saul, additional reporting by Gleb Gorodyankin in Moscow, editing by Jane Baird)