Combating the stink bug threat: Our global facilities

From Zeebrugge in Belgium to our Mid-Atlantic Terminal in Baltimore, with stink bug season looming we worked during the summer to prepare new facilities for treating cargo. Our experts around the world explain the range of treatment options now available for customers.

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The rapid spread of the stink bug (BMSB) in North America and Canada – the pest feeds on up to 200 varieties of plant – is an invasion authorities in Australia and New Zealand are determined won’t be repeated in Oceania. This means shippers of cargo must ensure products destined for the two nations are delivered stink-bug free.

Customers that don’t comply with the new regulations risk their products being turned away from port, delivered late – or not delivered at all. That’s why, with our partners, we’ve developed a range of global heat treatment and fumigation options to ensure products are delivered without contamination by stink bugs.

The 2019-2020 stink bug season runs from the beginning of September to the end of April in New Zealand and the end of May in Australia. WW Ocean has adopted Australia’s timings for all cargo, irrespective of destination, to mitigate the risk of errors.

This season, many more countries have been added to the list of high-risk nations posing a threat to bio-security because of the bugs. Countries at risk of exporting BMSBs to Australia and New Zealand now include Belgium – where Wallenius Wilhelmsen operates a major hub at Zeebrugge – as well as Canada, the Netherlands and Turkey.

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Heat treatment facilities in Zeebrugge.

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Fumigation facility in Baltimore.

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Fumigation facility in Baltimore.

Turning up the heat at Zeebrugge

Saba Berikishvili, BMSB coordinator, Zeebrugge, explains that with new heat treatment facilities – purpose-built for this season by WW Solutions – his team is capable of treating up to 540 passenger cars per day at the terminal. There’s also a fumigation tent run by a third party with the ability to treat up to 80 units of high and heavy and breakbulk cargo.

“Capacity has been doubled since the last season,” explains Berikishvili. “We now have enough capacity to cater for demand from customers at Zeebrugge for stink bug treatment services.”

European terminals busy with bug threat

Zeebrugge isn’t the only European terminal to have new dedicated facilities for dealing with stink bugs. Captain Henrik Meyer, VP port and cargo operations, explains that stink bug treatment facilities are also very busy at Bremerhaven, Germany, Le Havre, France, and Santander, Spain. All of these facilities are run by third parties under the watchful eye of WW Ocean.

At Bremerhaven – just like Zeebrugge – heat treatment is typically used to treat passenger cars, with fumigation the method of choice for larger breakbulk and high and heavy products. It is Spain’s first year on the list of target countries and the private terminal operator at Santander has responded by setting up its own stink bug treatment facilities.

“We take every possible measure to prevent live bugs making it onto our vessels,” Meyer points out. “This even includes inspecting cargo that doesn’t need to be treated to avoid cross-contamination.”

Battling stink bugs in Baltimore

Over in the US, Wallenius Wilhelmsen spent the summer gearing up for the new stink bug season. “We are as prepared as we possibly can be,” says Steve O’Malley, general manager, WW Solutions at the Mid-Atlantic Terminal in Baltimore. “We were even paid a visit by inspectors from Australia to review processes on the terminal side: they were very impressed with what they saw.”

Third party-run stink bug treatment facilities at the Baltimore terminal include a 50ft by 100ft heat treatment building accommodating 30 vehicles per treatment on a three-hour cycle. It can treat up to 120 cars a day, with overtime also a possibility if demand is high. Meanwhile, the terminal’s high and heavy and breakbulk fumigation building measures 75ft by 350ft and has a 33ft high ceiling, so can accommodate the most oversized cargo.

Chinese treatment centres start up

Facilities for stink bug treatment have also been established in China. Cargo fumigation services are provided by third parties at terminals in Shanghai and Lianyungang and a heat treatment facility is also currently being tested at Shanghai. In total, fumigation facilities in China provide almost 30,000 square metres of treatment space for passenger cars, explains Paul Lam, VP, WW Solutions, China.

There’s no denying the scale of the stink bug threat, but Wallenius Wilhelmsen’s global facilities are prepared. “We’ve put effective measures in place to treat stink bugs in our markets around the world,” says O’Malley. “As the BMSB regulations increase in scope, we will make them available for customers everywhere.”

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