NEWARK, NJ - U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security
Tom Ridge announced new port security initiatives and investments to provide increased international cooperation, greater use of technology, and additional funds for port security facility enhancements.
"The port security measures we are putting in place - both here at home and abroad - are about building on our capabilities and strengthening each layer of defense," he said while making the announcement at Port Elizabeth, NJ. "Through information sharing with our international partners; several different levels of inspection; review of intelligence information on the crew, cargo and vessel long before they reach our shores; state-of-the-art technology; and, of course, vigilance at every turn, we are able to screen and board 100 percent of high-risk vessels coming into our ports."
The measure further build on a comprehensive port security strategy and range of enhancements directed by the President following September 11, 2001. The announcements include the second phase of the Container Security Initiative (CSI), $170 million in port security grants, and $58 million in funding for Operation Safe Commerce.
Enhancing Container Security - Phase 2
The Container Security Initiative, an existing Department of Homeland Security program incorporating side by side teamwork with foreign port authorities to identify, target, and search high-risk cargo, will now be expanded to strategic locations beyond the initial 20 major ports to include areas of the Middle East such as Dubai as well as Turkey and Malaysia.
"The Container Security Initiative has emerged as a formidable tool for protecting us from the threat of terrorism," said Sec. Ridge. "Now that we have almost achieved our goal for CSI at nearly all of the top 20 ports, we will be expanding CSI to other ports that ship substantial amounts of cargo to the United States and that have the infrastructure and technology in place to participate in the program."
The top 20 ports account for 68 percent of all cargo containers arriving at U.S. seaports. Governments representing 19 of these ports have agreed to implement CSI during the first phase including an agreement with the government of Thailand for the Port of Laem Chabang that was signed by Secretary Ridge and Thailand's Foreign Minister on June 11. Phase 2 of CSI will enable the Department to extend port security protection from 68 percent of container traffic to more than 80 percent -- casting the safety net of CSI far and wide.
Helping Secure Our Port Facilities - Port Security Grants Programs
Secretary Ridge announced the department's commitment to enhancing security at our nation's key ports and facilities though $170 million dollars in port security grants.
The Port Security Grant Program funds security planning and projects to improve dockside and perimeter security. The latest round of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) grants have been awarded to 199 state and local governments, and private companies for $170 million. The new awards will contribute to important security upgrades like new patrol boats in the harbor, surveillance equipment at roads and bridges, and the construction of new command and control facilities. TSA, the United States Coast Guard and the Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration evaluated the Port Security Grant applications and selected grant award recipients. In 2002, $92 million was awarded in the first round of Port Security grants.
In addition to the $170 million, the Department of Homeland Security also provided $75 million in port security grants for specific projects from the FY '03 supplemental budget. The funds will be distributed by the Office for Domestic Preparedness to cover recent infrastructure security protective measures, security enhancements, training, exercises, equipment, planning, and information sharing.
Using Technology and Teamwork - Operation Safe Commerce
As part of the department's effort to secure cargo as it moves though the port, Sec. Ridge announced $58 million in funding for Operation Safe Commerce, a pilot program in coordination with the Department of Transportation that brings together private business, ports, local, state, and federal representatives to analyze current security procedures for cargo entering the country. The program's objective is to prompt research and development for emerging technology to monitor the movement and ensure the security and integrity of containers through the supply chain. The ports of Seattle and Tacoma, Los Angeles and Long Beach, and the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey are participating in the pilot program.
Story from ITSA