Integrated Approach to Container Security Strongly Urged
Major risks in inland transportation have not been addressed, report says
PARIS, France - 06/12/04 - Addressing the security of containers requires "a comprehensive intermodal framework integrating measures across the entire container transportation chain," according to a new report on global container security published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).?
"Although elements of such a framework are emerging in different countries, regions and segments of global industries, a fully integrated approach has not been implemented anywhere in the world yet," the report says.
The report - Container Transport Security Across Modes - points to container security during transportation inland as the weakest link in the transportation chain with cargo theft, attacks on truck drivers, illegal immigration, the transport of dangerous goods, and drug and contraband smuggling specifically cited.
Most importantly, the report said, the threat of a Chemical, Biological, Radiological or Nuclear Weapon (CBRN) being delivered via an anonymous shipping container "has risen above other terrorist-linked threats to containerized transport and has become a principal driver of international transport security policy since 2001."
This, it said, "has a direct impact on transport authorities as they are charged with ensuring the efficient flow of goods while at the same time ensuring that the parts of the container transport chain under their jurisdiction are as secure as possible."
In response, the OECD recommends establishing "clear container handling rules; increasing security at rail yards, road stops and loading facilities; sealing containers with a high-security mechanical seals; and other measures to minimize security risks."
The container industry is vital to the world's economy, according to the report, which was compiled by the Paris-headquartered organization's Maritime Transport Committee and the European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT).
More than 80% of goods traded world wide are transported by sea, much of them in containers involving thousands of container vessels and more than 250 million container movements every year.
The vulnerability of cargo containers has been a focus of international policy since the attacks of September 11th 2001.
But though security on ships and at ports has been strengthened in recent years, "little has been done to address inland security risks relating to cargo containers," the report said, noting that security measures "should not unduly slow down or block the flow of goods nationally and internationally."
In fact, it said, "countries have many options that can increase security and actually facilitate the free flow of trade, namely better coordination between transport authorities with assistance from Customs officials and police forces."
The report also advises governments to work closely with transport authorities when designing and implementing security measures.
The report outlines two scenarios in which the container industry could be vulnerable to terrorist attack: a "hijack" scenario in which terrorists intercept a legitimate consignment and tamper with it; and a "Trojan horse" scenario in which terrorists develop legitimate trading identities to then ship dangerous consignments.
To minimize risks, the report specifically recommends improvements in shipper responsibility, container security, inland security, and international rules and recommendations.
Shippers and/or other parties packing a container "are the most important link in the container security chain. They should help to establish, and follow, clear container "stuffing" and sealing protocols and initiate the start of a clearly auditable trail for all containers," the report said.
"The focus of container tracking should not be "real-time" but rather "right-time" tracking --- that is, ensuring that those who need to find out where a container is can do so when they need to know. In this context, most existing operator-specific tracking systems are sufficient for this purpose," the report said.
Transport authorities should ensure that appropriate government agencies have access to this data as needed. In those cases where "real-time" tracking is the right solution, these systems should not be deployed without the back-up of a more "traditional" chokepoint control tracking system.
Screening and scanning of containers, while complimentary, are not the same, it said.
"100% container screening is possible - should an administration choose to do so - but 100% scanning, on the other hand, is not practical with current technologies."
Container screening, it said, can be made more effective if transport authorities assist Customs by ensuring that "proprietary" information (e.g. regarding transport operators, licensees, etc.) is made available to Customs for their container risk assessment.
Transport authorities should also support the concept of advanced information submission to Customs and use of the Unique Consignment Reference number among transport operators to further facilitate container screening, the report said.
Containers, it added, should be sealed with, at a minimum, a high-security mechanical seal and recommended strongly against mandating the use of "smart" electronic locks "at this time as the technology is not yet standardized and deployed internationally."
Containers are most at risk while being transported inland, especially when parked in rail yards, road stops and loading facilities, the report said. Security in these areas "needs to be increased with ID checks for transport workers introduced and the time containers spend at loading terminals reduced."
Lastly, the report said that inland transport and maritime authorities should make more effort to comply with existing recommendations and international rules.
Specifically, it urged the "full implementation" of the recommendations of the ECMT Ministerial Declaration on Combating Terrorism in Transport, the 2001 Ministerial Conclusions on Combating Crime, and the ECMT Resolution No97/2 on Crime in International Transport.
It also called on countries to comply with the amended Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention and the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) code that govern security measures for international ocean-going vessels.
back, or read the latest Front Page stories:
Developed Countries Chided for Lack of WTO Input
WASHINGTON, DC – 03/10/06 – Setting a ''drop dead date'' of April 30 for countries to agree on subsidy and tariff cuts for agricultural and industrial goods, USTR Rob Portman says the world’s developed countries ''must be more willing to come forward with market opening proposals if the Doha Development Agenda trade talks are to succeed;'' the USTR is in London for a meeting of the Group of Six to discuss the issues blocking a comprehensive global trade agreement.
Port Issue Unlikely to Curb Foreign Investment in US
WASHINGTON, DC – 03/08/06 – Direct foreign investment in the US will continue to grow strongly in coming years, say analysts, despite the controversy surrounding the proposed management of terminal operations at several US ports by United Arab Emirates (UAE)-owned Dubai Ports World; according to press reports, the clamor over the Dubai port deal isn’t resonating on the waterfront where foreign-owned companies have managed terminal operations at facilities at the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, New York/New Jersey, Norfolk and others for years.
US, Mexico Cement New Cross-Border Trade Agreement
WASHINGTON, DC – 03/06/06 – The US and Mexico have signed an agreement that paves the way for increased two-way trade in cement and ''opens the door for possible increased imports of Mexican cement, encourages US cement exports to Mexico and settles outstanding litigation;'' in addition, US-based exporters could reap considerable advantage from a World Trade Organization ruling that Mexico needs to drop its discriminatory tax on beverage imports.