Ports Applaud Increased Funding For Security

Wednesday, June 05, 2002
Increased funding for port security in H.R. 3983, the "Maritime Transportation Antiterrorism Act of 2002," was passed the House on June 4. The FY '02 supplemental appropriations bills, which the House has passed and the Senate may vote on this week, also include additional port security funds. "Greater resources are critical for continued improvements in security at our nation's ports," said Kurt J. Nagle, president of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA). "We applaud Congress for recognizing this need, and for its investment in helping to secure port facilities from terrorist attacks. We encourage Congress to provide more funding in both the security legislation and in the FY '02 supplemental bills." H.R. 3983 authorizes $225 million for Federal grants to help ports enhance seaport security, and allows local flexibility to address terrorism at America's ports. Compared to the Senate bill, S. 1214, "The Port and Maritime Security Act of 2001," the House bill is focused solely on terrorism and is not as detailed on planning requirements, leaving the specifics up to future regulations. Planning requirements in H.R. 3983 are limited to areas that the Department of Transportation (DOT) determines are at risk of having a catastrophic emergency in the event of a terrorist attack. H.R. 3983 calls for grants over three years totaling $249 million. Out of this amount $7.5 million will be made available for reimbursement to ports that have made security enhancements since September 11, 2001. The Senate bill, S.1214, over a five-year period, calls for $390 million in grants. Both the Senate Appropriations Committee and the House have passed supplemental funding for FY '02 which includes increases 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 included $200 million for port security grants; the Senate bill may be taken up on the floor soon. Congress also appropriated $93.3 million for port security grants in December 2001. Applications for the $93.3 million in port security grants actually totaled almost $700 million, highlighting the need for additional port security funding. Ports have already invested millions for security-related enhancements prompted by the September 11 attacks, and plan to invest at least $312 million more for security enhancements such as personnel (a recurring annual cost), gate and entry controls, surveillance systems, lighting, X-ray equipment, fencing and radiation detection equipment. 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. Enhancing seaport security is a top priority for U.S. ports today. Ports want to maintain the safest, most secure facilities possible while moving goods and people efficiently to their destination. Port security must have local flexibility to reflect the unique and variable nature of ports. Because of their diversity in size and types of cargo, security for individual public ports should be coordinated at the local level, by the Coast Guard, port, local industry, other government agencies, terminal operators and labor unions.
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