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Homeland Security

Prepared Witness Testimony
The Committee on Energy and Commerce
W.J. "Billy" Tauzin, Chairman

Port Security: A Review of the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection's Targeting and Inspection Program for Sea Cargo
Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
December 16, 2003
1:00 PM
Delaware River Port Authority, One Port Center, 11th Floor Board Room, 2 Riverside Drive, Camden, New Jersey


Mr. Edward Henderson
Director of Strategic Planning & Development
Philadelphia Regional Port Authority
3460 N. Delaware Avenue
Philadelphia, PA, 19134


Good afternoon. My name is Ed Henderson; I'm the Director of Strategic Planning for the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA). I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Chairman and the Committee for holding this hearing and inviting me to participate.

The PRPA, an independent authority of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, has as its primary mission the enhancement of water-borne trade and commerce. The PRPA has seven marine terminals including 18,000 linear feet of berthing space, 4,000,000 square feet of warehouse capacity, and nine ship to shore gantry cranes. In 2002, the PRPA's facilities handled 550 vessels and over 4.1 million tons of cargo, including 143,575 twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs). The PRPA is a landlord Port that contracts with terminal operators who perform cargo handling and facility security operations. The PRPA was awarded Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Seaport Security grant funding for access control, perimeter barriers, video surveillance, and facility lighting projects.

The total Delaware River Port system, which includes the Ports of Camden, Wilmington and Chester, handles approximately 375,000 container units. Many of these containers are laden with imported food products such as meat, dairy, and fruit.

As an important commercial stakeholder, the maritime industry is committed to partner with the U.S. Government to assist in the increased targeted inspections. Security provisions should continue to be based on sound logistics management practices that include secured and tamperproof alarms, radiation detection equipment, increased visibility of cargo, accurate manifests, and secured intermodal providers, including points of rest.

The targeting and inspection of seaport containers is critical for the international maritime community and the Department of Homeland Security. At the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal approximately fifty to eighty containers per week are inspected utilizing the VACCIS. Depending upon the arrival of the vessels and the availability of the VACCIS equipment this inspection could take several days. A container detained for a full customs inspection can delay the release of a container an additional 5 days and cost as much as $800.

Targeting more containers for Customs inspection will increase cost and time to the supply chain, which primarily operates on a just in time distribution system. This increased cost to the importer will be past on to the consuming public. Further, increased cargo inspections at the marine terminal will reduce terminal throughput and increase the need for greater capacity. With international trade forecsted to grow two and three fold terminals space demands will become an even more critical issue.

In order to make the most effective use of targeted container inspections at U.S. marine terminals the U.S. Government should continue to fund and expand recently established programs including Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) and Operations Safe Commerce. These programs enable technology to screen cargo movements and identify those that pose the most probable threat enabling for a more secured supply chain without increased costs and delays.

Further, the Container Safety Initiative (CSI) validates legitimate freight prior to departure and provides for inspections of suspicious containers at foreign ports before they reach U.S. soil. The goal is to maintain cargo flows by reducing the potential for inspection backlogs at U.S. Ports. Initially, the initiative included the top 20 foreign ports and the next phase will include the second tier of foreign ports. Additionally, U.S. Customs should continue to upgrade established resources such as the Automated Commercial Systems (ACS). An upgrade to the ACS system will improve the ability to monitor what is coming in an out of the country while ensuring a continuous flow of commerce. The expansion of the aforementioned programs are critical and must be further integrated into the U.S. Customs short and long term planning process.

It is essential that targeted inspections of containerized cargo be performed in an equitable and efficient manner. The inspection process is time consuming and requires dedicated labor and specialized equipment. Policies that mandate increased container inspections at U.S. Ports must be established in conjunction with a plan that insures necessary equipment and staffing levels to provide the inspections.


The Committee on Energy and Commerce
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-2927

 



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