The Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Energy (DOE) have announced the first phase of the Secure Freight Initiative, an effort to build upon existing port security measures by enhancing the federal government’s ability to scan containers for nuclear and radiological materials overseas and to better assess the risk of inbound containers.
“Our highest priority and greatest sense of urgency has to be aimed at preventing a nuclear weapon or dirty bomb attack against the Homeland,” says Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. “This initiative advances a comprehensive strategy to secure the global supply chain and cut off any possibility of exploitation by terrorists.”
The initial phase of Secure Freight involves the deployment of a combination of existing technology and proven nuclear detection devices to six foreign ports: Port Qasim in Pakistan; Puerto Cortes in Honduras; Southampton in the United Kingdom; Port Salalah in Oman; Port of Singapore; and the Gamman Terminal at Port Busan in Korea. Beginning in early 2007, containers from these ports will be scanned for radiation and information risk factors before they are allowed to depart for the United States. In the event of a detection alarm, both Homeland security personnel and host country officials will simultaneously receive an alert.
DHS will allocate nearly $30 million to fund the radiography equipment and the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) will contribute $30 million to fund the installation of radiation portal monitors. NNSA will also lead the effort to integrate the data from equipment for use in-country. DHS will be responsible for installing the necessary communications infrastructure to transmit the data to the United States.
Data gathered on containers bound for the United States in foreign ports participating in the Secure Freight Initiative will be transmitted in near real-time to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers working in overseas ports and to the DHS National Targeting Center. This data will be combined with other available risk assessment information such as currently required manifest submissions, to improve risk analysis, targeting and scrutiny of high-risk containers overseas.
DHS is also partnering with some of the world’s largest container ports. The size and complexity of larger ports, such as Singapore and Busan, require an initial limited deployment. This first phase will provide lessons and evidence on how this new, integrated technology can meld smoothly into the logistics, operations, and flow of commerce at each different port.