WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) today introduced legislation to increase security at the nation’s 361 ports. Their bill would, for the first time, create minimum security standards for all containers entering the United States.
“It’s been eight years since 9-11 and our ports are still not yet secured. Port security is essential to protect our residents from a possible terrorist attack. This bill would set minimum security standards for every container coming into our country and help ensure port security grants are awarded based on risk. It is vital we take every possible step to make our ports safe,” said Sen. Lautenberg.
Senator Menendez said: “Securing our ports is essential for the security of our hometowns and our families. We have been told repeatedly, by the 9-11 Commission and by other security experts, that our ports are vulnerable and time is of the essence. We have to work to ensure that this critical legislation gets passed into law and that the provision I sponsored in 2006 mandating 100% cargo scanning remains the goal that we are working toward.”
“It’s been over eight years since 9-11 and despite the widespread knowledge that our ports are a favorite target for terrorists, our ports are still not as secure as they should be,” Sen. Schumer said. “Port security is vital in protecting our nation from a dangerous terrorist attack. When you think about the nightmare consequences of allowing a nuclear device to slip through our ports, it’s clear that our port security measures deserve a lot more effort and focus and this bill does just that.”
“Securing our cargo and ports must be a national priority,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The security of our families and communities depends on having safety standards for every container and shipment that enters our country. This legislation is critical – we need to take every step we can to make our ports safe.”
The legislation would require cargo be monitored from the moment it is packed into containers abroad until it reaches its destination in the United States. Containers that do not meet the standards would be refused entry into the country.
The bill also calls for:
· Minimum security standards for essential port services such as supply and launch vessels, and bunker and fuel deliveries, which are largely unregulated;
· Each of the nation’s port regions to have a response and recovery plan in case of a major terrorist incident or emergency;
· The ability for law enforcement officials to confiscate a fraudulent or altered Transportation Workers Identification Credential (TWIC); and
· Creates new standards to more accurately determine port security risks and identify funding needs. In 2006, Sen. Lautenberg wrote a law requiring all port security grants to be awarded based on risk.
A fact sheet on the bill is below.
The Senators’ bill is based on recommendations of a task force of government and business officials created by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Chairman Anthony R. Coscia in 2006. The purpose of the task force was to foster public discussion of port security issues and to explore gaps in port and supply-chain security.
The Port of New York and New Jersey is the largest port on the East Coast and the second-busiest container port in the country. It supports approximately 230,000 jobs and is responsible for generating $20 billion in economic activity.
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Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Port Security Task Force Implementation Act of 2008
This bill, the Port Authority Implementation Act of 2008 (S.3174), was introduced by Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). The bill is based on the findings of a task force on port security established in 2006 by Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Chairman Anthony R. Coscia.
The Port Security Task Force (PSTF) is a group of nonpartisan independent business and government officials concerned with identifying and solving critical port and supply chain security issues that still remain nearly eight years after 9-11.
Key provisions of the port security bill include:
· Mandatory Container Security Standards: Required for international cargo containers entering the U.S. Current security policy relies on shippers taking voluntary measures to improve security. Container shipments that fail to meet these new minimum standards will be denied entry into the U.S.
· Regional Response and Recovery Plans: Required for each port, so that there is a process to restore order to the commerce in our region after a major incident or disruption occurs.
· Standardized Risk Assessment Tools: Requires the use of a standardized risk assessment tool so that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can more accurately determine risks to ports and surrounding communities and businesses areas thereof, and port security grants can be prioritized accordingly.
· Authorizes Law Enforcement to Confiscate Falsified IDs: Provides authority for any federal, state or local law enforcement official to confiscate a suspected fraudulent or otherwise tampered with federal Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) at locations where there is no Coast Guard presence (such as the Port Authority’s airports, bridges and tunnels).
· Designated Security Officials on Foreign Ships: Requires each foreign vessel entering a U.S. port to designate a “Security Individual” who would be responsible for responding to a transportation security incident while it is docked at a U.S. port, on behalf of the ship’s owner/operator.
· Includes Unregulated Ships in Federal Security Regime: Brings ships that are largely unregulated today, such as those used in essential port services like supply vessels, launch vessels, and bunker and fuel delivery ships, under federal security requirements. These ships have been identified to pose some a risk to maritime security.
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