Seaport security grants totaling $92.3 million announced by Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Norman Mineta on June 17 will help provide urgently needed funding to the nation's port authorities for security enhancements. Ninety-five percent of the nation's overseas trade by volume moves through ports.
Since September 11, 2001, ports have invested millions of dollars to improve security at marine terminals. The DOT funding will help a number of them conduct port vulnerability assessments, and continue to improve security measures such as personnel (a recurring annual cost), gate and entry controls, surveillance systems, lighting, X-ray equipment, fencing and radiation detection equipment.
"We're grateful that Secretary Mineta and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) staff moved quickly to award these funds to ports," said Kurt J. Nagle, president of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA). "We also applaud Congress for recognizing the industry's funding needs. The grants will take us one step further in helping to secure port facilities from terrorist attacks."
According to the DOT, grants totaling $78 million will fund enhanced facility and operational security; grants for $5 million will be provided for security assessments to help ports evaluate vulnerabilities; and $9.3 million will fund exploration of new technology to improve maritime security. Applications for the $93.3 million in port security grants were due to TSA by March 28, 2002, and actually totaled almost $700 million, highlighting the need for additional port security funding.
"While the $92.3 million in grants was a good start, we're glad to see Congress continuing to address security funding
in the FY '02 appropriations bills," Nagle added.
The FY '02 supplemental appropriations bills, which the House and Senate have passed, also include additional funds for port security grants. The House passed its version on May 24 and provided $75 million for additional port security grants. The Senate Appropriations Committee passed its bill June 7 and included $200 million for port security grants.
In addition, H.R. 3983 authorizes $249 million over three years for Federal grants to help ports enhance seaport security, and allows local flexibility to address terrorism at America's ports. The Senate bill, S.1214, calls for $390 million in grants over a five-year period.
Ports work in partnership with local, state and Federal government agencies like the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Customs Service to protect U.S. water borders. The Federal government is responsible for overall safety of vessels, and the handling and storage of certain cargoes. It also approves passage of people and cargo across maritime international borders
. Port authorities and marine terminal operators are responsible for the landside and dock security of the facilities themselves.