A new heat treatment facility to eradicate stink bugs and other pests at the Port of Baltimore is designed to speed processing of vehicles being shipped to Australia and New Zealand.
Invasive plants and animals are the scourge of international trade. Nations require shipments from at-risk regions to undergo treatment and inspection before customs officials release them into commerce.
To prevent the brown marmorated stink bug from hiding in vehicles heading Down Under, vehicle processor Wallenius Wilhelmsen Solutions added a heat treatment structure in Baltimore, which is the primary U.S. export location for vehicles heading to Oceania. The company can treat up to 30 vehicles at a time and 600 per vessel.
Using up to eight 500,000-Btu heaters fed by three 1,000-gallon propane tanks, the building quickly heats to about 160 degrees, raising the vehicles' interiors to 140 degrees, according to WWS' website.
The process takes about two hours. To allow for proper venting, the full fumigation cycle can take up to 32 hours.
WWS has operated a fumigation facility at its Mid-Atlantic Terminal since 2015. Last year, the terminal fumigated more than 3,000 cars, 1,200 units of machinery and 1,774 other pieces of equipment.
Australia and New Zealand issue strict shipping regulations from September through April to stop the stink bug from entering their borders. Cargo headed for Australia that is manufactured before Dec. 1 must be treated before loading. Cargo manufactured after that requires a certificate stating the date of manufacture. Cargo bound for New Zealand must be treated regardless of the date of manufacture.
Stink bugs eat apples, kiwifruit, corn, tomatoes, cherries and wheat.
In February, New Zealand authorities denied entry to three ships from Japan carrying thousands of new and used vehicles found to be harboring stink bugs. In one case, vehicles had to be reloaded on a vessel and sent back to sea. The Auckland port has limited capacity to treat the cargo, so the delays resulted in low dealership stocks, according to news reports.
The increased capacity in Baltimore gives automakers flexibility to make tighter delivery windows before vessel sailing and increases operational efficiency, WWS said.