A US statutory requirement to scan all incoming containers at foreign ports will take effect at the beginning of July, a date thrown into sharp relief as the House of Representatives homeland security committee approved a revamped bill that retains the clause.
The draft bill gave the industry minor cause for cheer for unrelated reasons, as it will postpone the requirement for workers to renew their transportation worker identification cards in the absence of Department of Homeland Security regulations on biometric card readers. But the 100% scanning requirement has proved its resilience yet again.
Since 2006 shippers, spearheaded by associations that include the National Retail Federation, have been campaigning to get the requirement eliminated on grounds that it is impractical and costly and could trigger foreign government retaliation against cargoes originating from the US. US homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano has pointed out the impracticality of the law and proposed a two-year postponement.
These calls went unheeded in the house, as the homeland security committee on Wednesday approved the Securing Maritime Activities through Risk-based Targeting for Port Security Act, known as the Smart Port Security Act. The Smart Port Security Act reauthorises the Security and Accountability for Every Port Act, known as the Safe Port Act, which became law in 2007.
The Safe Port Act implements the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations, including the contentious provision that all US-bound containers will be scanned at origin from July 2012. A fig leaf in the Safe Port Act allows the homeland security secretary to grant waivers to individual ports, under conditions that are somewhat vague. Last year, a Safe port reauthorisation draft in the Senate proposed a broad waiver of the 100% scanning requirement.
With the clock now ticking to July 1, shippers were particularly anxious to get the house bill to remove the 100% scanning clause permanently.
The homeland security committee passed a version that allows DHS to recognise other countries’ trusted shipper programmes and allows the US Coast Guard to recognise other governments’ port security threat assessments, but stops short of jettisoning the 100% scanning clause.
Republican congresswoman Candice Miller, chair of the subcommittee on border and maritime security, hailed the new bill, saying: “Securing our waterways is an essential component of a layered approach to security.
“This bill enhances risk-based security measures overseas before the threat reaches our shores, emphasising a stronger collaborative environment between customs and border protection and the US Coast Guard in sharing port security duties and leveraging the maritime security work of our trusted allies.”
Comment: Huh!, to whom does this refer? Such a statement flies in the face of its own C-TPAT program and bilateral overtures with foreign ports (supposedly based on risk). Perhaps its time for the ‘trusted allies’ to deport CSI teams who have not necessarily endeared themselves to their respective host nations.
- Shippers Fail to Scrap 100 Percent Container Scanning Deadline (joc.com)
- US threatens Nigeria over ports’ insecurity (vanguardngr.com)