Archives For Homeland Security

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The notices detailing President Donald Trump’s promise to build a “big, attractive wall” were made public late Friday (3 April 2017) by Customs and Border Protection. The request from the Customs and Border Protection Department called for a 30-ft-high wall, but said that plans to build a wall minimum 18 ft in height may be acceptable.

“The north side of wall (i.e. USA facing side) shall be aesthetically pleasing in color, anti-climb texture, etc., to be consistent with general surrounding environment”, reads the RFP. In the documents, CBP says that the side facing the US must also be “aesthetically pleasing” in “color, anti-climb texture etc., to be consistent with general surrounding environment”.

And that’s before a new Trump budget, which came out Thursday, includes $2.6 billion over two years to begin construction of the wall. The government is asking for a 9-meter-high concrete barrier, extending 2 meters underground, built to be “physically imposing” and capable of resisting nearly any attack, “by sledgehammer, vehicle jack, pickaxe, chisel, battery-operated impact tools, battery-operated cutting tools [or] oxy/acetylene torch”.

Earlier this week Mexican lawmakers increased pressure on Mexican construction firms tempted to help build deeply reviled wall.

The proposal document asks contractors for 30-foot-long prototypes and mock-ups of 10 feet by 10 feet. Although Trump made it a centerpiece of his presidential campaign to get the Mexican government tol pay for the wall, expectations are low that the U.S.’s southern neighbor will give money while it’s being built or afterwards.

The specifications leave almost all of the design work to interested bidders, who now have about two weeks to develop and submit their plans, known as proposals. Trump called for the wall to stop illegal immigration into the United States from Mexico and to cut off drug-smuggling routes.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) said in January that the wall would cost between $12 billion and $15 billion, though other estimates have put the price tag as high $25 billion.

There was some misplaced optimism that Donald Trump would immediately jettison all of his inane campaign promises upon taking office; that the threat of a wall at the Mexican border would be quietly tabled for its obvious insanity.

Proponents of a wall make two questionable assumptions: First, that there will be a continued north flow of refugees. Friday’s release did not address the overall cost of the wall. The city of Berkeley, California, said last week it would refuse to do business with any company that’s part of the border wall. The cost of about 1,000 miles of wall could cost $21.6 billion between now and 2020. Published on Aliveforfootbal website

USCBPThe US government is proposing making social media accounts part of the visa screening process for entry into the country.

US Customs and Border Protection’s proposed change would add a line on both the online and paper forms of the visa application form that visitors to the US must fill out if they do not have a visa and are planning on staying for up to 90 days.

The following question would be added to both the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (Esta) and I-94W forms: “Please enter information associated with your online presence—Provider/Platform—Social media identifier.”

The information will be optional, for now, but the proposed change published by the US Federal Register states that “collecting social media data will enhance the existing investigative process and provide Department of Homeland Security (DHS) greater clarity and visibility to possible nefarious activity and connections by providing an additional tool set which analysts and investigators may use to better analyze and investigate the case.”

The proposal is currently under consultation, with US government taking comments until 22 August.

The change forms part of the plan by the US DHS to scrutinise social media activity of visa applicants and those wishing to enter the country, following the San Bernardino killings in California, in which social media profiles formed part of the investigations along with an iPhone 5C.

Current DHS pilot programmes are being kept under wraps but are said to scan a limited amount of social media posts.

The pilot programmes currently used by DHS do not sweep up all social media posts, though government officials have kept details of the programmes closely held, as they do not want to reveal the precise process they use to try and identify potential threats.

It’s unclear if or how the DHS would verify information written on a form before hitting border control, leaving the possibility of false information being put down, and while the information may be optional, it will likely be difficult to discern what is and isn’t required on the form.

The US government approves around 10m visa applications a year and had 77.5 million foreign visitors in 2015. Collecting social media accounts for all visitors could produce one of the largest government-controlled databases of its kind almost overnight. Source: Customstoday

Know the FactsU.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske formally rolled out the “Know the Facts” campaign today. The campaign, launched on July 20 in Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, encourages those considering attempts to illegally enter the U.S., to “Know the Facts” and avoid embarking on the dangerous trek north only to be returned to their country.

“This campaign is designed to educate would-be travelers in Central America and Mexico about the realities of the journey north human smugglers have no regard for human life,” said CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske. “It is critical that they are aware of the facts behind U.S. immigration policies before risking their lives. There are no ‘permisos.’”

The campaign is designed to increase awareness of U.S. immigration policies and enhanced enforcement on the U.S. border, clearly and simply stating the facts behind U.S. immigration policies. Source: USCBP

CBP logoU.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published a Federal Register Notice inviting U.S. exporters to request CBP’s assistance in resolving disputes with foreign customs agencies over the tariff classification or customs valuation of U.S. exports. CBP explains that it is willing to assist U.S. exporters with these disputes under the auspices of the World Customs Organization (WCO). CBP is very active at the WCO and regularly participates in meetings concerning the application of the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS System) and the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Customs Valuation Agreement (CVA). According to CBP, this process was helpful in providing a successful outcome for clients who disputed a foreign customs agency’s classification of imported goods.

Tariff Classification
CBP represents the United States at meetings under the auspices of the International Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (“HS Convention”). The HS Convention is the international agreement that provides that WCO Members will implement the HS System and comply with decisions of the various committees organized under the convention. CBP attends semiannual meetings of the WCO’s Harmonized System Committee (HSC), where contracting parties to the HS Convention examine policy matters, make decisions on classification questions, settle disputes, and prepare amendments to the HS System and its Explanatory Notes.

Article 10 of the HS Convention governs disputes between contracting parties concerning the interpretation or application of the HS Convention. The article provides that parties with potential disputes should first try to settle the dispute through bilateral negotiations. If such negotiation cannot resolve the dispute, the parties may refer the dispute to the HSC for its consideration and recommendations. The HSC, in turn, refers irreconcilable disputes to the WCO Council for its recommendations.

Customs Valuation
CBP represents the United States at the WCO with respect to issues arising under the CVA. Pursuant to Annex II to the CVA, the WCO’s Technical Committee on Customs Valuation (TCCV) is authorized to examine specific problems arising from the customs valuation systems of WTO Members. The TCCV is responsible for examining the administration of the CVA, providing WTO Members with advisory opinions regarding particular customs valuation issues, and issuing commentaries or explanatory notes regarding the CVA. Like the HSC, the TCCV may get involved in disputes amongst foreign customs agencies. CBP stands willing to help U.S. exporters with these disputes. This process may provide U.S. exporters with a faster procedure to resolve disputes than a typical WTO dispute.

CBP’s Role at the WCO May Resolve Export Issues for U.S. Exporters
CBP states in the notice that its communication with other customs administrations through the meetings of the HSC and TCCV at the WCO can “often serve to eliminate or resolve export issues for U.S. traders.” As an example, in 2014, a U.S. exporter notified CBP of a foreign customs administration’s misclassification of its textile exports. The U.S. exporter requested that pursuant to Article 10 of the HS Convention, CBP (1) contact the foreign customs administration to resolve the tariff classification dispute; and (2) refer the matter to the HSC at the WCO, if it could not be resolved bilaterally. After confirming it agreed with the U.S. exporter’s position, CBP engaged the foreign customs administration directly. Within seven months of the exporter’s request, CBP secured a favorable decision by the foreign customs administration to classify the merchandise in a manner consistent with the U.S. position. Consequently, the U.S. exporter obtained correct tariff treatment of its imported merchandise in the foreign country as a result of CBP’s engagement.

Source: http://www.internationaltradecomplianceupdate.com/

product_tsaprecheck_hero_750x200The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently achieved two major milestones for its trusted traveler programs. The Transportation Security Administration Pre✓ application program, which began in December 2013, has now enrolled more than half a million travelers.

Additionally, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has enrolled more than three million users in their trusted traveler programs: Global Entry, NEXUS and SENTRI. Together, all of these DHS trusted traveler programs provide an improved passenger experience, while enhancing security and increasing system-wide efficiencies.

TSA Pre✓ allows low-risk travelers to experience faster, more efficient screening at 118 U.S. airports nationwide currently. TSA Pre✓ is an expedited screening program that allows pre-approved airline travelers to leave on their shoes, light outerwear and belt, keep their laptop in its case and their 3-1-1 compliant liquids/gels bag in a carry-on in select screening lanes.

The TSA Pre✓ application program allows U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to directly enroll in TSA Pre✓. Once approved, travelers will receive a “Known Traveler Number” and will have the opportunity to utilize TSA Pre✓ lanes at select security checkpoints when flying on a participating carrier: Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways and Virgin America.

Upon arrival in the United States from abroad, Global Entry members are able to bypass the traditional CBP inspection lines and use an automated kiosk. With more than 70,000 new applicants each month, travelers enrolled in this program can scan their passport and fingerprints, answer the customs declaration questions using the kiosk’s touch screen and proceed with a receipt — the whole process only takes about one minute. Launched in 2008, as a pilot program, Global Entry is now a permanent program and has 51 locations in the U.S. and at CBP Preclearance stations in Canada. These locations serve 99 percent of incoming travelers to the United States. Source: dhs.gov

Securing US Cargo - Infographic by Journal of Commerce (Click to enlarge)

Securing US Cargo – Infographic by Journal of Commerce (Click to enlarge)

The Journal of Commerce provides a very useful infographic on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s efforts and initiatives in securing US – cargoes from foreign ports. While the Container Security Initiative (CSI) was one of the very first post 9/11 security initiatives it has since been supported by a number of other partnership programs involving other customs agencies and the US trade community. These have spawned many of the policies and guidelines being adopted by Customs agencies around the world where the WCO has ‘formulated’ and ‘standardised’ such requirements for broader international use, in conjunction with capacity building programs.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office has published a report, “DHS Could Improve Cargo Security by Periodically Assessing Risks From Foreign Ports,” recommending that U.S. Customs and Border Protection should continually update and expand its Container Security Initiative.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, CBP has taken steps to reduce vulnerabilities associated with U.S.-bound cargo container shipments by placing customs officials at foreign seaports to determine whether U.S.-bound shipments from those ports pose a risk of containing weapons of mass destruction or other terrorist contraband. While cargo from foreign ports and ships is critical to the U.S. economy, it can also be exploited by terrorists.

When CSI was launched in 2002, CBP initially selected 23 CSI ports largely on the basis of the volume of U.S.-bound container cargo, but it increased the number of risk factors in selected additional ports as it expanded the CSI program beginning in 2003. Through 2007, CBP added 35 ports to the CSI program based on additional criteria, such as strategic threat factors and diplomatic or political considerations. As of July 2013, CBP was coordinating targeting of U.S.-bound cargo container shipments with 61 foreign ports in 34 countries.

Cargo shipment data from PIERS, JOC’s sister publication, supports the GAO’s view that the U.S. needs to update and expand CSI in order to continue effectively monitoring incoming cargo. In particular, it appears the U.S. should form new CSI partnerships with Vietnam and India, which are the Top 2 exporters to the U.S. with no established CSI partnerships.

Although Vietnam is “relatively stable” in terms of its government, it is geographically close to Laos and Cambodia, and is therefore risky because of transshipment issues, according to Susan Kohn Ross, an attorney with Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp in Los Angeles. She also noted there has been a trend of manufacturers moving from China to Vietnam recently, as labor has become more expensive in China, resulting in more Vietnamese exports to the U.S.

Meanwhile, local uprisings in India recently have increased the country’s vulnerabilities to terrorist plans, despite the nation’s stable government, Ross said. India’s proximity to Pakistan also exposes it to terrorist groups, such as al-Qaida and the Taliban, and because Pakistan already has an established CSI partnership, terrorists might find it easier to smuggle cargo via India, she explained.

Conversely, if budgetary constraints ever force the CSI program to condense its monitoring, then CSI partnerships could perhaps be downgraded or eliminated entirely with the governments of Jamaica, Oman and Greece, which are the smallest exporters to the U.S. with established CSI connections, according to PIERS.

However, expanding and even contracting the CSI program present challenges. For example, CBP officials said in the GAO report that it is difficult to close CSI ports because removing the program from a country might negatively affect U.S. relations with the host government.

Furthermore, implementing a CSI partnership in a country exposes jurisdictional issues and regulatory differences, Ross said. For instance, the U.S. considers drugs to be a national security issue, but that’s not always the case in other countries, so prioritization of monitoring has to be worked out. Issues like which nation should pay for customs officers to be trained, or who should fix scanning equipment when it breaks, also must be resolved.

Ross further explained that it is “highly unlikely” that the federal government will ever expand CSI to cover 100 percent of all U.S. imports, an idea that CBP considered in 2009, but never implemented because of budget constraints. She said that scanning equipment is not advanced enough to expeditiously monitor all U.S.-bound cargo, and not all countries would even be willing to put CSI in place anyway.

Ultimately, nothing is foolproof, and if terrorists really wanted to wreak havoc on the U.S., they could probably more easily attack the U.S. through its borders, via Canada and Mexico, Ross said. However, CSI acts as an important deterrent, limiting the number of chances a terrorist has to harm to the U.S. Source: www.joc.com

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’.

 

isfU.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has announced that on July 9, 2013, it will begin full enforcement of Importer Security Filing (ISF or 10+2), and will start issuing liquidated damages against ISF importers and carriers for ISF non-compliance.

According to the CBP release, “in order to achieve the most compliance with the least disruption to the trade and to domestic port operations, it has been applying a “measured and commonsense approach” to Importer Security Filing (ISF or 10+2) enforcement.

The Importer Security Filing (ISF) system—also referred to as the “10+2” data elements—requires both importers and carriers to transmit certain information to CBP regarding inbound ocean cargo 24 hours prior to lading that cargo at foreign ports. These rules are intended to satisfy certain requirements under the Security Accountability for Every (SAFE) Port Act of 2006 and the Trade Act of 2002, as amended by the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002.

Under the ISF, the following 10 data elements are required from the importer:

  1. Manufacturer (or supplier) name and address
  2. Seller (or owner) name and address
  3. Buyer (or owner) name and address
  4. Ship-to name and address
  5. Container stuffing location
  6. Consolidator (stuffer) name and address
  7. Importer of record number/foreign trade zone applicant identification number
  8. Consignee number(s)
  9. Country of origin
  10. Commodity Harmonized Tariff Schedule number

From the carrier, 2 data elements are required:

  1. Vessel stow plan
  2. Container status messages

Source: CBP.gov

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…

Bromma load verification sensing technology (www.bromma.com)

Bromma load verification sensing technology (www.bromma.com)

The International Association of Ports and Harbours (IAPH) has helped the container handling industry to put focused attention on the issue of container weight verification. The IAPH and the International Shipping Organization have called for near 100 per cent container weight verification as a standard industry ‘best practice’. IAPH has recognised the value of container weight verification for both safety and operational reasons. Accurate container weights can help guide critical plans regarding stowage, and verifiable load data also serves to ensure worker safety. Lifting containers within an acceptable weight range also prevents accelerated stress on the spreader, thus extending equipment life.

The issue that organisations such as IAPH and the World Shipping Council have raised is not merely an academic one, studies of container weight indicate that there is often significant variation between listed and actual container weight. The problem is a familiar one: not everyone tells the truth about their weight, as the consequences of inaccurate weight can include equipment damage in ports, injury to workers and collapsed container stacks, among others.

The question is ‘how’, not ‘should’?

The general consensus has grown that universal container weight verification is a worthy standard, the key question has quickly begun to shift from whether we should we have a universal requirement to how we can best implement this commitment. Along these lines three general approaches might be possible.

The container crane option

The first possible approach is to utilise container cranes to meet the weighing requirement. The advantage of weight verification by cranes is that weighing occurs during the normal course of handling operations. The disadvantage of a crane-based approach is that weighing accuracy is only approximately 90-95 per cent, and cranes cannot distinguish between the weights of two containers when lifting in twin-mode. Since many terminals load and unload container ships using twin-lift/twin-20 foot spreaders, the actual weight of each of these individual containers will remain in doubt if there is a reliance on container cranes to yield this data. Also, with the emergence of the mega-ship era, more and more terminals will be looking for productivity solutions that enable more containers to be handled in each lift cycle, and so twin-handling of 40 and 20 foot containers is likely to expand in the future, thus adding to the number of containers with an uncertain weight.

The weigh bridge option

A second option for terminals would be to meet the container weight requirement through the use of weigh bridges. Unfortunately, there are multiple weaknesses in this approach.Containers can be weighed from the weigh bridge, but driving every container onto a weigh bridge will obviously add another operational step, and slow productivity. It also requires, especially at larger and busier transhipment terminals, that considerable land and transit lanes be set aside for weighing activities. In addition, there are two weight variables on the weigh bridge – the variable weight of up to 300 litres of truck fuel and the weight of the driver. Further, as with a container crane, a weigh bridge cannot distinguish between the weights of two containers, and so the weight of each individual container will always be inexact. The only way to gain a precise weight is to weigh one container at a time, and to adjust for fuel weight and driver weight variables.

The spreader twist lock option

The third option is to ascertain container weight from the spreader twist locks. For container terminals, a spreader-based weighing approach has several key advantages. Firstly, weighing from the spreader twist locks yields much more accurate information, as container weight precision is greater than 99 per cent. Secondly, unlike weigh bridges or crane-based container weighing, spreaders weigh each container separately when operating in twin-lift mode. When a Bromma spreader lifts two 20 foot containers or two 40 foot containers at a time, the spreader can provide highly accurate data on the weight of each separate container, and without any of the variables (fuel, driver) associated with the weigh bridge approach.

In addition, with a spreader-based approach you weigh containers from the spreader twist locks without adding any extra operational steps or requiring any extra space or transit lanes. Terminals simply log container weights in the normal course of lifting operations – with a warning system alerting the terminal to overloaded and eccentric containers. Container weight verification during the normal course of terminal operations is a way to accomplish the weighing mission without impairing terminal productivity, and especially at busy transhipment terminals. To read the full report, Click Here!

Source: www.porttechnology.org

A CBP vehicle patrols the border in Arizona in 2010. (Matt York/AP file photo)

A CBP vehicle patrols the border in Arizona in 2010. (Matt York/AP file photo)

Nearly 150 Customs and Border Protection officers were arrested or indicted for corruption over the last eight years, a new report has found. A majority of the officers were stationed along the Southwest border, the Government Accountability Office determined. An additional 2,170 were arrested for misconduct in the same time period. GAO cited CBP’s lack of review and oversight of its employees and monitoring processes as complicit in allowing corruption to fester within the agency. (Readers please bear in mind that CBP has over 50,000 members)

Incidents of corruption included fraud, harboring aliens, selling immigration documents and allowing loads of narcotics through a port or checkpoint. Of the 144 corruption incidents, 103 — more than 70 percent — were considered “mission-compromising.” CBP even reported some instances of “infiltrators” seeking and gaining employment at the agency for the sole purpose of engaging in mission-compromising activity. For example, an officer stationed in El Paso, Texas, was arrested in 2007 for conspiring to import 5,000 pounds of marijuana each month into the United States. Less than 1 percent of arrests for misconduct, however, were related to CBP’s mission.

GAO recommended CBP — part of the Homeland Security Department — better track which pre-employment screens assist in identifying unacceptable job applicants. CBP currently conducts background investigations and polygraph examinations for potential hires, but does not monitor which tactics are the most effective. GAO also suggested CBP assess the feasibility of expanding the polygraph program to include occasional tests for current employees. Additionally, the auditors said the agency should improve the quality assurance of its screenings and set a timetable to complete a comprehensive employee-integrity strategy. CBP concurred with all of GAO’s recommendations, saying while an overwhelming majority of its employees are honest and hardworking, there is little room for error. “Any act of employee corruption interferes with the agency’s mission to secure the nation’s borders against all threats and facilitate legitimate travel and trade,” Jim Crumpacker, DHS’ chief liaison to GAO, wrote in a letter to the auditors. Source: www.govexec.com

A U.S. Customs & Border Protection Mobile Radiation Portal Monitor (MRPM) drives down a row of containers checking them for radiation.The truck will drive down an entire row of containers, scan one side of them and then it will drive down and scan the other side of them.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s maritime mission is now back on-line with today’s processing of cargo vessels and containers. “In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy the people of New York and New Jersey have faced great adversity, the men and women of CBP have been with them each step of the way,” said Robert E. Perez, CBP’s Lead Field Coordinator for CBP in FEMA Region II. “Today’s processing of cargo ships into the Port of New York/Newark marks the next step in CBP restoring its maritime operations here in the greater New York City area and returning to business as usual.”

CBP personnel are on site today processing 161 expected international flights with approximately 31,500 passengers at JFK and 92 expected international flights with approximately 14,500 passengers at Newark International Airport.

To facilitate the flow of goods into the New York area, CBP officers conducted cargo container inspections this morning at the Port of New York/Newark for the first time since Hurricane Sandy battered the New York/New Jersey area. CBP import and entry specialists were back to work as soon as their facility opened last week, processing merchandise to help facilitate the flow of much needed supplies and supporting the United States economy.

CBP worked very closely with the U. S. Coast Guard and the NY/NJ Port Authority to lift waterway restrictions and open marine terminals to cargo vessels. Officers were on site and ready to process shipments as soon as cargo was off loaded. CBP deployed officers to JFK and Newark Liberty International Airport from other parts of the country to assist with the processing of international passengers. Source: FEMA

The conventional image (left) and the dynamic image (right) of a pack of rice containing mealworm larvae

The conventional image (left) and the dynamic image (right) of a pack of rice containing mealworm larvae

X-ray inspection systems are a standard feature in many ports. These X-ray systems have the unique ability to non-destructively image the contents of entire cargo containers in just a few seconds. It is a difficult task, however, to identify what is in the container based on the obtained X-ray images. The superposition of two images with different contrasts – like in dual-energy X-ray imaging – can enhance the effectiveness of the detection. A novel X-ray imaging technology now introduces an entirely new type of contrast based on movement. This technology can be combined with existing single-energy and dual-energy X-ray imaging methods, opening new possibilities in port security applications.

One important application of the dynamic imaging technology could be finding stowaway pests in the cargo. Stowaway pests travel hidden within transported goods and may damage the cargo while being shipped. In addition to this, potentially invasive species often travel as stowaway pests and arrive to new territories unnoticed. Although better part of these exotics are harmless, approximately 20 to 30 percent of the introduced species are pests and cause major environmental and economic problems. Read the full article here! Source: Porttechnology.com

A must read for Supply Chain practitioners. Cargo crime—including theft, fraud, and the passage of contraband through commercial shipping lanes—poses an enormous threat to security and the economy.

By understanding the current methods and operations of those who attack the supply chain, industry professionals can design effective security plans and law enforcement can properly investigate these crimes.

Cargo Crime: Security and Theft Prevention is drawn from the author’s (John J. Coughlin) personal experiences as a law enforcement detective and supervisor and as a regional security manager for a large multi-modal transportation and logistics company.

The book reviews emerging trends, identifies criminal tactics, discusses law enforcement response to cargo theft, and presents best practices to help businesses avoid victimization by cargo thieves. Topics include:

  • The various modes of freight transportation and the differences in cargo crime activity in each mode.
  • Methods of operation used by organized crime syndicates and narcotic smugglers.
  • The effective use of public and private information-sharing partnerships to thwart criminal activities.
  • Known profiles consistent in over 90 percent of contraband shipments.

The book features the following key aspects:

  • Identifies current methods of operation being used by organized and opportunistic criminals who target the supply chain.
  • Discusses current law enforcement efforts and response to cargo theft.
  • Examines the various modes of freight transportation and the differences in cargo crime activity in each mode.
  • Outlines best practices for industry practitioners to prevent being victimized by cargo thieves.
  • Addresses industry and law enforcement public/private partnerships for sharing information, educating law enforcement, and circumventing the cargo theft issue.

Cargo crime is a critical concern of freight transportation operators, manufacturers, shippers, insurers, law enforcement, and consumers. This book arms professionals charged with protecting the supply chain with essential information that can help them investigate and uncover criminal activity and develop a first class cargo security program. Available for purchase from http://www.crcpress.com.