Health, fire and air-quality officials Thursday were investigating a container ship berthed on the west side of Terminal Island after longshoremen complained of harmful fumes emanating from the vessel's cargo bays.
Officials said they were first called in Wednesday afternoon, when strong odors forced longshoremen to stop work aboard the Ever Group. The 890-foot container ship, whose cargo included hazardous chemicals, is operated by the Evergreen International shipping company.
As the South Coast Air Quality Management District and the Los Angeles County Health Department analyzed air samples taken from the vessel Thursday, it was unclear whether any of the workers were injured by the fumes.
Citing reports from longshoremen, Los Angeles City Assistant Fire Chief Sam Dianitto said two of the estimated 36 stevedores who worked on the vessel Wednesday had been treated for nausea and respiratory problems. Several others reportedly called in sick on Thursday, he said.
But an executive with the contractor who hires the longshoremen disputed Dianitto's account.
"We heard last night that two crew members (longshoremen) passed out, but that's not the case," Henry Ottenstroer, senior vice president of Metropolitan Stevedore Co. of Wilmington said Thursday. "And I'm not aware of anybody calling in sick."
According to Evergreen officials, the Ever Group, docked at berth 233, arrived in Los Angeles early Wednesday from Charleston, S.C., and had been due to depart Thursday morning for Tokyo. Several types of hazardous chemicals were listed on the ship's manifest, said Los Angeles County Health Department official Gerald Munoz.
Attracting the most attention, Munoz said, were 21 pressurized containers of two types of gas--tetrachloride and trifluoropropene. Both substances are considered hazardous and can cause respiratory problems and nausea if inhaled, he said.
"They're pretty bad actors," Munoz said of the substances.
Fire officials said the Ever Group would be cordoned off until lab analyses of the air samples are completed.
The AQMD, which collected its air samples outside the ship, had expected to have results late Thursday. Fire personnel, who took samples from one of the ship's 17 container bays, said the Health Department lab analysis was not expected until today.