FMC Taking a Stand on East Coast Empty Container Return Issue

Posted 08/09/2022

WSSA and some of our members recently toured two of the terminals in the NY/NJ Port and witnessed the extreme congestion and pile up of empty containers. The terminal operators confirmed that they literally have zero space for more empty containers and that they cannot work the incoming vessels if they take more containers into the terminal. They need the ocean carriers to evacuate both full and empty containers to make space. FMC Chairman Daniel Maffei was quoted last week following a visit to Port NY/NJ:

  “When ocean carriers continue to bring thousands of containers per month to a port and only pick up a fraction of that number, it creates an untenable situation for terminals, importers and exporters, trucking companies, and the port itself. The Commission has already been investigating reports of carriers charging per diem container charges even when the shipper or trucker cannot possibly return the container due to terminal congestion. I will ask that this investigation be broadened and intensified to cover instances where shippers and truckers are being forced to store containers or move them without proper compensation."

And we now have a statement from Commissioner Bentzel, the opening line of which we have provided here:

"I want to agree and associate myself with the statement made by Chairman Maffei in the aftermath of his visit to the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey, and his concerns on the mounting challenge of returning empty containers to the marine terminals servicing the port."

Alison Leavitt, Managing Director of WSSA, is currently attending a meeting of the National Shippers Advisory Council and this topic will be further addressed by the top shippers in the United States who continue to work on recommendations for practical solutions to the problems plaguing the supply chain. If the FMC solicits comments on the East Coast Congestion issue, we will supply all of you with the information as your comments will make a difference. Stay tuned!