Gulf Coast port closings prompt other options
Sep 6, 2005 2:57 PM
The US Customs Atlanta GA field office has been designated oversight on all cargo clearance and import related processing for the area affected by Hurricane Katrina. The Atlanta office has designated the port of Memphis TN to manage all import-related transactions, according to US Customs information.
The port locations of New Orleans and Gramercy LA and Gulfport and Pascagoula MS currently are non-operational due to Hurricane Katrina.
President Bush has instructed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to waive the coastwise merchandise statute (46 USC App. 883) so non-coastwise-qualified vessels (those not US built, owned, and documented) can help distribute petroleum and refined petroleum products to where they are needed. Unless otherwise instructed, the waiver only applies to vessels transporting petroleum and refined petroleum products and ends September 19, 2005.
In addition, DHS has waived the coastwise laws generally for the transportation of petroleum released from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, whether pursuant to an exchange, sale or otherwise.
Incoming foreign cargo is being diverted from its original US port of destination to the nearest feasible US port.
The underlying issue with respect to these scenarios is the coastwise merchandise statute, which provides that no merchandise shall be transported between US points on a non-coastwise-qualified vessel. Consequently, the use of such vessels not covered by the Presidentís waiver violates the law, according to the Customs information.
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