Most US-Bound Containers to be Inspected
CSI program to expand as new technologies come on-line, says Washington
WASHINGTON, DC - 08/26/04 - The Bush Administration aims to have most shipping containers pre-screened before they're moved on to the US as counter-terrorist security measures are expanded to more foreign seaports.
According to sources, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plans to expand its Container Security Initiative (CSI) operations beyond the current network of 25 major international seaports to inspect more than 80% of all US-bound ocean containers.
Under the CSI program, US Customs agents assigned to foreign ports target "high-risk" containers and "identify those that pose a potential terrorist risk for inspections by their?local counterparts."
The DHS has said that the CSI "will expand to strategic ports that ship substantial amounts of cargo to the United States and have the capability to participate in the program."
Currently, 26 major ports in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America are participating in the CSI program - Algeciris, Spain; Antwerp, Belgium; Hamburg and Bremerhaven, Germany; Busan, Korea;Halifax, Montreal, and Vancouver, Canada; Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Le Havre, France; Pireaus, Greece; Hong Kong; Singapore; Durban, South Africa; Laem Chabang, Thailand; Yokohama, Kobe, and Tokyo, Japan; Felixstowe, the UK; Genoa and La Spezia, Italy; and Goteborg, Sweden.?
The Geneva-headquartered World Customs Organization (WCO) and the G-8 have supported CSI expansion by adopting several binding resolutions that support the implementation of the program's security measures at ports around the world.
In April, the European Union and the Department of Homeland Security signed an agreement committing the EU "to further cooperate on CSI and related matters."
In an additional step toward reciprocity, Japanese and Canadian Customs officers are now stationed and working in key US ports to screen containers destined for their respective countries.
The CSI program, according to the DHS, is balanced on four core elements - the use of intelligence and automated information "to identify and target all containers that pose a risk for terrorism;" the pre-screening of containers "that are found to pose a risk at the port of departure before they arrive at US ports;" the utilization of detection technology to quickly pre-screen containers that pose a risk; and the use of "smarter, tamper-evident" containers.
The agency is currently implementing so-called "non-intrusive inspection" (NII) technology that allows the screening of a larger number of cargo containers portion of containers in less time.
The technology utilizes large-scale gamma ray and x-ray imaging systems "to safely and efficiently screen conveyances for contraband, including weapons of mass destruction," the DHS said, adding that the NII units can scan the interior of a fully-loaded 40-foot container (FEU) in 60 seconds.
In addition, Customs personnel are also reportedly using radiation detection devices to scan for signs of radioactive materials hidden within legitimate cargo shipments.
If necessary, the DHS said, containers are opened and unloaded, or "stripped," by the host government's Customs service for a more intensive manual inspection with US Customs inspectors "on-hand to observe."
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