Archives For 100% Scanning

Picture1The days of halting trains and unloading contents for inspection appear to be over at the Dutch Port of Rotterdam, where trained operators can now use high-power X-ray scanners to produce clear, unambiguous imagery of densely packed cargo in trains moving at speeds up to 60 kilometers per hour (35 MPH).

Simultaneously, another group of operators located several miles away in a secure inspection office collect, analyze and evaluate the X-ray images for a wide range of potential threats, dangerous materials and contraband.

Because it all happens so swiftly — particularly as the containers are never unloaded or diverted individually to cargo inspection facilities — the speed of throughput increases exponentially. To be precise, Dutch Customs at the Port of Rotterdam can now inspect nearly two hundred thousand rail containers per year, or a single 40-foot container in eight-tenths of a second.

This is the future, or as in the case of Rotterdam, the present model of an enhanced global supply chain — ultra-high-speed rail throughput combined with ultra-accurate threat detection. This combination of speed and efficiency is an innovation that allows not only railways to be more secure, but the global supply chain as a whole.

Rail has long been an overlooked component of the modern supply chain, even though it is arguably one of the most important. Because of the nature of rail — with thousands of miles of unguarded track, often connecting countries — it has previously been challenging to screen and secure without causing a disruption to the supply chain. And while ports and airports typically get the lion’s share of technology innovation, all components need to be equally considered and secured to prevent interference and have a smoothly run supply chain.

For a long time, cost-minded operators have tended to view the security of rail cargo scanning and the efficiency of throughput as essentially two competing interests.

When minor security gains trigger major productivity losses — and when even small throughput disruptions can grind supply chains to a halt — it’s easy to see why rail lines have been relatively (and intentionally) under-served by global security improvement efforts.

As a result, one of the more popular rail security/efficiency compromises has been to implement a procedure for “small sample” screenings, by which only a small portion of each rail car or trainload is scanned for threats, dangerous materials, and contraband — providing a modicum of security without disrupting the core efficiency of the supply chain.

However, as malicious activities have become more prevalent and more sophisticated, “small sample” rail screenings have become increasingly insufficient. The United States Department of Homeland Security even instituted a 100% cargo-screening mandate at ports (though that mandate has since been retracted).

Accordingly, the industry has been eagerly seeking newer technology-based answers — ways to scan a larger portion of rail cargo without degrading throughput efficiency. The Dutch Customs’ solution meets higher inspection goals without detrimentally affecting the international supply chain.

Countless other customs and border agencies, companies, and national organizations are pursuing their own answers to similar and related security/efficiency challenges. For instance, rail operators worldwide are now experimenting with higher-energy X-rays for penetrating more densely packed freight cars. (When throughput lags, companies will attempt to condense their shipments into fewer cars, which can pose an obstacle for traditional X-ray scanners.)

In addition to the security factor, revenue is another motivator for government agencies to embrace this new cargo scanning technology. Customs enforcement of a freight rail (for international cargo lines) is extremely important to a country as contraband goods can cost governments hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax dollars. And smuggled contraband can also help fund organized crime and domestic terrorists, making it all the more important that rail lines not be overlooked when it comes to integrating cutting edge security.

In fact, a single malicious attack, occurring anywhere in the world, can devastate the global supply chain in its entirety, driving up prices and imposing major delays on manufacturers worldwide. By not being required to choose between 1) preventing extraordinary threats, and 2) maximizing the efficient of ordinary processes, the evolving technology can truly accelerate rail cargo screening and secure it too. Source: Rapiscan (Contributed by Andy Brown)

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Rapiscan M60Rapiscan Systems has launched the new Driverless Eagle M60 cargo inspection system. It is a fully-automated vehicle screening system which can operate without the need of a driver and has been specifically designed to assist customs and border personnel in their detection of nuclear materials, explosives, weapons and contraband such as tobacco, alcohol and currency in trucks, cargo and containers.

Rapiscan’s driverless system requires no driver to be present during scanning, which the company says eradicates driver fatigue and driver work-shift changes; improves inspection rates and vehicle throughput; and removes risks associated with lone workers, health and safety incidents and potential human error. It can be driven on the road like a standard vehicle, allowing the unit to move between locations quickly and easily as required.

Once moved into position via a remote steering system, the M60 automatically detects two positional sensors — one placed at either end of the scan location. The positional sensors can be placed as far as 35 meters apart, allowing for oversized cargo or multiple units to be scanned in one pass.

As the scanning commences, additional sensors on the M60 make minor adjustments to the direction and position of the vehicle which ensures it consistently drives in a straight line between the two positional sensors. The system is designed not to deviate by more than 25mm from the center line.

The automated scan process is then monitored by a system operator who is housed in the M60’s onboard inspector’s office. This operator views the high resolution X-ray images produced by the system in real time.

Rapiscan was recently awarded two lucrative contracts for its vehicle and cargo inspection systems. On May 13, the company announced a $15 million order from an undisclosed Middle East customer. The order is for multiple Rapiscan Eagle M60 mobile inspection units, which the Driverless Eagle 360 is based on. This was followed by a $13 million order for an undisclosed “international customer,” again for Eagle inspection systems.

Rapiscan’s Eagle cargo and vehicle inspection systems are used by customs agencies, military organizations and homeland security operatives around the world. Eagle cargo and vehicle inspection systems use proprietary transmission X-ray technology that is able to penetrate well beyond the surface of a container or vehicle to provide comprehensive detection of threats.

A short film demonstrating the Driverless Eagle M60 in action can be seen here.

Rapiscan_m60UK freight forwarders have welcomed but are not surprised by the latest US postponement by two years of the implementation of new rules requiring all cargo containers entering the US to be security scanned prior to departure from overseas ports, with national association BIFA reiterating calls for the initiative to be abandoned.

Peter Quantrill, Director General of the British International Freight Association (BIFA), said it was “hardly surprising” to hear the recent news that the US had delayed the introduction of the new rules “amid questions over whether this is the best way to protect US ports”, calling the move “a healthy dose of common sense”.

Mr Quantrill commented: “As BIFA has said repeatedly, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has consistently underestimated the enormity of the task in hand relative to the costs both to the US government and foreign governments – as well as, importantly, the limited ability of contemporary screening technology to penetrate dense cargo, or large quantities of cargo in shipping containers.”

The deadline for implementation of 100% scanning of all inbound containers has already been delayed from 2012 to 1 July, 2014, and US Secretary for Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, who took over the role just six months ago, has now reportedly decided on another 24-month postponement.

BIFA’s comments follow the recent news of a letter from Thomas Carper, chairman of the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, which suggested that the use of systems available to scan containers would have a negative impact on trade capacity and the flow of cargo.

Quantrill adds: “Media reports suggest that the US Government now doubts whether it would be able to implement the mandate of 100% scanning, even in the long term, and it would appear that it now shares BIFA’s long-standing opinion that it is not the best use of taxpayer resources to meet the USA’s port security and homeland security needs.

“We have always said that expanding screening with available technology would slow the flow of commerce and drive up costs to consumers without bringing significant security benefits.”

He continued: “Whilst the latest news of a two-year delay appears to be a healthy dose of common sense at the US Department of Homeland Security, BIFA still believes that the US Government ought to take an even bolder step and repeal the original legislation.

“That would be the most appropriate way to address this flawed provision and allow the Department and the industry to continue to focus on real solutions, including strengthened risk-based management systems to address any security gaps that remain in global supply chains.”  Source: Lloyds Loading List

Port of Oakland - VertiTainer's  crane mounted scanner solution employs advanced passive scanning technology and sophisticated identification algorithms to detect and identify gamma and neutron sources in shipping containers as they are loaded or discharged from a container ship.

Port of Oakland – VertiTainer’s crane mounted scanner solution employs advanced passive scanning technology and sophisticated identification algorithms to detect and identify gamma and neutron sources in shipping containers as they are loaded or discharged from a container ship.

While the question of mandatory weighing of containers features high on the International Maritime Organisations’ (IMO) list of priorities, a recent post “Container Weighing – industry solution on the horizon“, reminded me of a solution which has been around for some time now, but for various reasons would appear to have been overlooked by authorities – or so it would appear. Readers and followers of this blog may well already have viewed the feature on VeriTainer’s gantry crane mounted radiation detection and identification system, called the VeriSpreader® – refer to the New generation NII technology page of this Blog.

The spreader is a device used for lifting containers and unitized cargo. The spreader used for containers has a locking mechanism at each corner that attaches the four corners of the container. A spreader can be used on a container crane, a straddle carrier and with any other machinery to lift containers. (Wikipedia)

The recent maritime disaster involving the breaking-in-half, and eventual sinking of the MOL Comfort gave rise to the question of overloaded container boxes. While government and international security-minded organisations have pursued methods to address breaches in the supply chain, it would seem that little ‘innovation’ has been applied to the problem – specifically in regard to minimizing the time and cost of routing containers via purpose-built inspection facilities.

At least three known radiation incidents have hit the headlines in recent times – namely Port of Genoa (2010), Port Elizabeth, New Jersey (Feb, 2013), and the most recent in the Port of Voltri (July, 2013). Each of these incidents warranted an emergency response from authorities with a consequential impact on Port Operations.  Unfortunately, advanced risk management systems and other security safeguards did not alert suspicion, allowing these ‘threats’ into the heart of the port, not to mention the radiation threat to port workers?

It could be argued that since the inception of government-led supply chain security, 2002 onwards, many of the world’s supply chains have built in ‘possible inspection’ into their export lead times. A trip to a purpose-built inspection facility will normally require diverting transport from its predestined journey to a land border crossing or seaport. Moreover, lack of predictability often causes delays with possible loss of business where ‘security’ measures delay the movement of cargo.

Several Customs and Border authorities have instituted ‘export-led’ compliance programmes which seek to create better regulatory awareness and expectation for shippers. While not without merit, these still impose an inherent cost to trade where in some instances, shipper’s are compelled to institute ISO-type security standards which for some require dedicated and skilled experts to entrench and maintain these throughout the organisation. So, while the development of increasing levels of compliance amongst supply chain operators will occur over time, what of government ‘Non-Intrusive’ inspection capability?

Port Technology International‘s Feb 2013 article – Future X-Ray Inspection Equipment to be based on Industry Standards – opined that “future developments in cargo screening are likely to follow a common innovation trajectory that is fostered by market needs and new technology, while being strengthened by existing intellectual property and evolving industry standards. Innovation is often perceived as a circular path beginning with customer needs that are identified by a technology developer. The developer then creates application technology in the form of products to meet those needs”.

Land and rail-based cargo screening technology has improved immensely over the last 10 years with improved safety (shielding), throughput (speed) and portability. Engineers have likewise realized the need to ‘fuse’ imaging and radiation threat detection technologies, all offering a more cost-effective package to the end-user. These are by and large the Customs and Border authorities worldwide who protect our territorial waters and ports. Yet, the approach remains ‘modality driven’ which has ensured a period of predictability for designers and manufacturers, not to mention their revenue streams. Given the container weighing – port radiation threats discussed earlier, perhaps it is time now for transport and enforcement authorities to consider technologies as developed by VeriTainer and Lasstec and define a specification for “100%” needs – could this be uniform? Not unlike Lasstec’s container-weighing solution that allows the weighing of containers during the loading cycle so not to disrupt the work flow, Veritainer’s VeriRAD solution uses a gantry crane ‘spreader’ to house its unique solution with specific emphasis to mitigate the threat of a ‘dirty bomb’.

 

Decision Sciences maintains that 100% container scanning is possible without bringingcommerce to a crawl (Credit: Maritime Professional)

Decision Sciences maintains that 100% container scanning is possible without bringing
commerce to a crawl (Credit: Maritime Professional)

The following article published by Maritime Professional describes a new technology, already in use by a major terminal operator, which appears to put the requirement for 100% scanning of all inbound containers back on track. The article has been doing the rounds on a social media platform with some sceptism still being shared on its viability as a ‘100%’ scanning solution. All the same its always interesting to learn of new innovations. I guess the US Treasury has spent billions sponsoring these types of tech-development so as to vindicate its original threat to the rest of the world! (For the PDF version please click here!)

In July 2007, U.S. legislators passed a law requiring 100% scanning of U.S. bound containers at their last foreign ports by the year 2012. That federal requirement nearly died a quick death recently but has received a reprieve of sorts. Originally scheduled to take effect July 1, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in May of 2012 notified Congress that she would use her authority under the 2007 law to delay implementation by two years. Napolitano said systems available to scan containers would result in a negative impact on trade capacity and the flow of cargo, and that some foreign ports do not have the physical characteristics needed to install such systems. If the last part was true then, however, it may not necessarily be the case now.

As reported in our 1Q 2012 edition of MarPro, pilot efforts were established at several foreign ports under the Secure Freight Initiative (SFI) targeting in-bound containers for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) prior to loading. Objections by trading partners surfaced and were confirmed by the Government Accounting Office (GAO).

In her testimony before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said in part, “DHS has learned a great deal from these pilots, but it has also encountered a number of steep challenges. Some of these issues relate to the limits on current technology. Technology doesn’t exist right now to effectively and automatically detect suspicious anomalies and cargo. This makes scanning difficult and time-consuming. …Therefore, DHS is compelled to seek the time extensions authorized by law with respect to the scanning provision.” At the time DHS’s Science & Technology Directorate (S&T) had already spent nearly $10 million on efforts to develop a container security device; to no avail.

New Technology: New Hope for Compliance
As the U.S. government continues to try to find a solution to its own scanning requirements, it also continues to fund testing when a promising solution comes to light. In September of last year, Decision Sciences International Corporation (DSIC), a provider of security and detection systems, announced that it was awarded a $2.7 million contract by the DHS Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) for an Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD) of its Multi-Mode Passive Detection System (MMPDS). Under the contract, DSIC supports government testing of MMPDS intended to evaluate the system’s effectiveness and readiness for transition to production. Before that, Decision Sciences was awarded another contract – this one worth $400,000 – by the U.S. Department of Defense to test muon tomography based scanning systems capable of detecting explosives. 

The Multi-Mode Passive Detection System – how it works
Based in Chantilly, VA, with a development/production facility in Poway, CA, DSIC and its 27 employees and contractors hope to bring together hardware and software development, systems integration and cutting edge science to improve the safety and security of global commerce. Based on patented technology invented by scientists at the Alamos National Laboratory, the Multi-Mode Passive Detection System (MMPDS) was developed with private sector investment and expertise. MMPDS is billed as a safe, effective and reliable automated scanning device for detecting unshielded to heavily shielded nuclear and radiological threats. In reality, and as MarPro found out during a focused site visit in Freeport, Bahamas, the system does so much more.

DSIC’s passive scanning technology uses naturally occurring cosmic ray muons to detect potential threats in cargo, vehicles and other conveyances. DSIC President and CEO Dr. Stanton D. Sloane explains, “Equipment can generally be classified into two main categories; active and passive. Active systems include x-ray and/or radiation technologies. In other words, they add some sort of radiation or energy to the environment. Our system is 100 percent passive; we don’t generate any additional energy. We simply use the existing cosmic ray ‘muons’ to do the scanning. When cosmic rays hit the upper atmosphere, they create showers of atomic particles. One of the particles is a muon. High in mass, muons travel at near the velocity of light. Because of this, muons penetrate materials … even very dense materials … readily.

Normal cosmic radiation is 5000 muons per minute and penetrates through lead, steel, concrete and just about anything else. Sloane adds, “That’s really the breakthrough technology. We have upper and lower detectors. As the muons go through the upper detector we calculate their trajectory. As they go through the bottom detector, we calculate their trajectory and we look for a change in that track. The angular change of the track is a function of the density of the material that the muons go through. The denser the material that the muons penetrate, the larger the angular change.”

Beyond the efficacy of the system is its vivid imagery of the inside of the container it is scanning. With x-ray machines, if something is found, the container must be taken to the side, analysis performed and delays to the container magnified. Not so with Decision Sciences technology: false positives are eliminated because the density of typical items – and the dangerous ones too – can be catalogued.

Continue Reading…

In an interview with The Maritime Executive, Peter Kant, executive vice president for Rapiscan Systems informed that the primary business of a port is serving as a hub for water-borne commerce and all of the logistics that entails, with each port competing for the business of shippers and container operators. Every investment made by a port authority, from a crane to a dredge to a security checkpoint, must be based on how this activity will not only position the port to current customers, but how it will affect the attraction of future customers.

Increasingly, however, these investments are including more and more security needs, from container scanning equipment to operator training to security architectures. Security, and in particular security screening, is not the core business of a ports authority, but compliance with national and international guidelines demands that certain security standards be met, or losing customers will be the last of a port authority’s worries.

But even though security screening is an absolute necessity, many ports are looking to get out of the security game altogether. But will the departure from security make ports less secure…or could it actually enhance cargo scanning operations?

The Heavy Burden of Screening
As mentioned earlier, port authorities are not experts when it comes to security, especially a task as granular as cargo screening. It’s not just about a “mean guard and a magnet” when it comes to screening anymore, and this especially holds true to the world of maritime cargo. First, the right technology must be installed, a solution that can effectively analyze cargo for potential contraband or threats, both conventional and radioactive. Then, a port authority must determine the best location for the screening checkpoint, and oversee the construction of the location, both in terms of port impact and traffic optimization.

Next come the installation and calibration of the scanning technology, as well as the hiring and training of security operators. The authority must also establish a workflow for what happens when a container is flagged – what requires a manual inspection? Who approves such an operation? What remediation must take place after the fact?

The fact of the matter is, cargo scanning isn’t just about putting containers through an X-ray machine. It’s much, much more than that, and consumes enough time that establishing and running a checkpoint can adversely affect port business.

But there is an easier way to run cargo screening operations. Port authorities are experts in maritime commerce, so why shouldn’t they turn to experts in security screening to run cargo scanning operations?

Cargo Scanning-as-a-Service
Rather than trying to become cargo screening experts overnight, port authorities can take advantage of a major trend in the overall security world: security-screening-as-a-service. Essentially, port operators form a partnership with an experienced security screening solutions provider, tasking the provider, not the port, with the onus of establishing and running a cargo scanning checkpoint.

Other than the obvious benefit of freeing the port authority from the security logistics headache, why turn to cargo screening as a service? For one, 100 percent screening in the United States has not gone away…at least not yet. But even if the requirements on cargo entering the USA are loosened, port screening for contraband is not going to decrease – in this economic climate, governments want to ensure that everything that can be taxed is taxed. This is a nightmare scenario for port authorities to deal with, but one with which screening solutions provider are comfortable. With their experience in the field, these providers can find the right equipment and checkpoint set-up to be as thorough and detailed as needed when it comes to cargo scanning, ensuring that not only are potential threats detected, but any contraband can be swiftly dealt with by the appropriate authorities.

Going with an experienced screening partner can also add radiation detection capabilities, a growing problem in the world of maritime commerce. Radioactive materials, either improperly labeled or being shipped as contraband, can shut ports down for days and are impossible to detect via conventional cargo screening technologies. By utilizing screening-as-a-service, however, port authorities can place this additional burden on the solutions provider, which has the experience and the right capabilities to detect radiation alongside conventional contraband and threats.

Training of security operators is another headache that cargo scanning as a service eliminates for the port. The difference between a major international incident and millions of dollars in fines can hinge entirely on the competency of a security screening operator. Do port authorities really want to be responsible for the skills of these professionals, especially when it’s in a field far outside of their comfort zones?

With cargo scanning as a service, training falls into the lap of the solutions provider, a task with which they are well familiar. Because they have built, installed and maintained the security technologies selected, these organizations best understand how to train professionals on the ins-and-outs of analyzing scanned images and detecting potential threats and contraband.

The service also gives ports a major competitive advantage, as a well-designed, specially-staff cargo scanning checkpoint makes the entire security process far easier for customers to deal with. Throughput is often increased, meaning that cargo makes it to its end destination more quickly and with fewer roadblocks, a paramount concern for shippers everywhere. Even a few hours delay can be costly, especially when perishable goods like imported produce are involved.

The Real World
Perhaps most importantly, cargo-scanning-as-a-service is not a pipe dream or some theoretical solution for ports. It’s already in practice and being used by some of the largest customs and port operations in the world.

The Ports Authority of Puerto Rico, for example, utilizes cargo-screening-as-a-service from a customs perspective, ensuring that no contraband is entering the island through its major ports. By enlisting an outside, specialized security solutions provider, the Port has increased throughput without sacrificing the integrity of its customs or security operations.

The Mexican Customs Authority has also turned to a wide-ranging cargo-screening-as-a-service solution for their operations, both land-locked and maritime. The major project has just recently been undertaken, but ultimately the vast majority of Mexican ports will soon be turning to screening-as-a-service when it comes to cargo, freeing the ports to focus on the business, not contraband detection.

Detecting threats and contraband via maritime cargo is not going to get any easier. If anything, smugglers, criminals and terrorist organizations are becoming more and more clever when it comes to getting illicit goods, weapons and hazardous materials across national borders. Port authorities trying to stay one step ahead of these issues are in for a struggle, as other aspects of the port business suffer.

Keep the port operator’s attention where it belongs (on the port) and let specialized experts handle the cargo scanning burden. It’s proven, it works, and it’s the best way forward to maritime prosperity and safety. Source: The Maritime Executive

Today, there are many different security inspection technologies available. These technologies may be combined in an attempt to achieve a better result. How the systems are combined strongly affects the results achieved, and different applications may require different combinations. This paper will examine several examples.There are three major applications for screening technology today: Revenue enhancement, contraband detection, and nuclear weapons of mass destruction detection (WMD). Several technologies that can be used are: Portal monitors, gamma ray imagers, high-energy X-ray imagers, and neutron systems. Matching the application and the technology correctly is critical. Port Technology International has published a paper on port security optimization, which addresses the various technologies and approaches towards optimisation of threats, namely revenue, weapons of mass destruction, and contraband highlighting the need for layered technology inspection systems to reduce false positives and enhance enforcement detection capabilities. Read the paper here! Source: Porttechnology.org

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.

Source: Lloydslist.com

Rail Scanner, Port of RotterdamYesterday, 15 February, the world’s fastest train scanner was opened in the port of Rotterdam with the installation and commissioning of a Rapiscan Eagle® R60 rail scanner, on behalf of Dutch Customs. It produces images of a good quality while the train is running up to 60 kilometres per hour. The Eagle R60’s 6 MeV X-ray imaging system penetrates dense and densely-packed cargo. Installations in other countries operate at a train speed of 30 kilometres. Dutch Customs selects containers on the basis of a risk analysis. The scanner checks trains out of the European hinterland into the port of Rotterdam. Here, the containers are loaded on vessels for export outside the European Union. The scanning installation is located at the Maasvlakte area, near to the N15 motorway on one side and the Steinweg Steel Terminal on the other. Capable of detecting and identifying a wide range of threats and suspect materials, including contraband goods, drugs, weapons and explosives, as well as radioactive material, the Eagle R60 is a high energy rail inspection system, which can efficiently scan cargo containers as they travel at speeds of up to sixty kilometers per hour. When the train scanner is fully integrated in Custom’s processes, a container will only be taken out of the logistic process if the scanning image provides ground for it.  Source: Ministry of Finance /Customs, Netherlands.

Various opinions on this subject have been voiced over the last 3 years – the threat of sea and airborne cargo being used as ‘a delivery mechanism’ for a nuclear or terrorist attack. Besides the US calling for 100% scanning of containerised cargoes at point of origin, the reality remains that less than 4% of seaborne containers are being scanned at port of departure.

Post 9/11, the US was quick to initiate a multi-layered approach to securing America against another terrorist attack. This entailed a number of domestic and extra-territorial programmes. At the bottom of each of these lies an authoritarian distrust or question mark against the integrity of entities involved in the international supply chain. In as much as these modern-day Customs’ initiatives aim to deal with tangible and intangible threats, one can begin to question the motives used by many governments and organisations in introducing such programs.

Last year, the US postponed it’s requirement for 100% scanning of inbound boxes by at least two years because of technical and funding issues. (Lets not forget the massive outcry from foreign countries of origin who envisaged their own ports coming to a standstill). The 2014 deadline, as it stands, would require any container heading to the US to be scanned for conventional as well as radioactive threats before being loaded at a foreign port.

However, in June 2011, US Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano went on record saying that 100% scanning was “probably not the best way to go”. She said Congress was considering a “more layered approach” to container security, a combined system of scanning, data and risk analysis, physical checks and closer co-operation with ports and countries around the world.

Could it be that the promise of mega-deals for the ‘security industry’ is under serious threat given limited success and results from these ‘supply chain’ initiatives? One hears less and less about the awarding of multi-million dollar contracts for non-intrusive equipment. Funding is a big issue, and no less an issue is the question mark which countries of origin have regarding the direct intrusion these US-domestic policies have on their local economies and supply chains.

The WCO went a long way in accommodating and addressing the question of international terrorism which in the view of many helped curbed the ‘paranoia’ which prevailed post 9/11. Still the question of motive and opportunity spurred several organisations and governments to support the many bilateral developments that ensued. The EU Commission for one was infuriated by the bilateral overtures of the CBP and EU Custom’s administrations before diplomatic agreement prevailed.

The bottom line is that a nation’s domestic policy overrides that of the wants and whims of the more affluent states. Several donor programs nowadays offer ‘security equipment’ free of charge to countries packaged with ‘capacity building programmes’ to instil the desired mentality of the donor country or agency. Traditional forms of customs control and human initiative/intuition are being cast out on the trash heap as primitive everywhere, yet there is little to show for the billions of dollars spent on anti-terrorism measures year after year. However, reading the article – Zero Tolerance – you get the impression of a little desperation on the part of the engineers and manufacturers of nuclear based security equipment – almost wishing a further nuclear calamity to prove their point! Source of article: www.portstrategy.com

U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspectors ...

U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspectors

 A key US government advisory committee has recommended that Washington repeals legislation requiring 100% scanning of maritime containers, suggesting instead risk-based analysis of any threat. A report by the Commercial Operations Advisory Committee (COAC) states: “The mandate for 100% scanning of maritime containers and the 100% screening of air cargo on passenger aircraft contained within the September 11 Commission Recommendations Act should be re-evaluated in favour of risk-based measures that target high-risk shipments for physical inspections. “Further the requirement to scan 100% of maritime containers prior to vessel load should be repealed.” COAC, tasked with providing advice to the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection, made its comments in reviewing the US government’s National Strategy for Global Supply Chain Security.  This comes in the wake of recent recommendations to have the mandate extended until 2015. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation was told that the Department of Homeland Security would need “significant resources for greater manpower and technology – technologies that do not currently exist – and the redesign of many ports.

I have updated the page ‘Non-Intrusive Inspection’ substantially – please visit.