U.S. Congressman Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02), Chairman of the House Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee hailed the enactment of the SAFE Ports Act and to discuss port security at local Delaware River Ports. Rep. LoBiondo was joined by Joseph Balzano, CEO of the South Jersey Port Corp. as well as Dennis Rochford, President of the Maritime Exchange for the Delaware River and Bay.
"I am very pleased to be at the Port of Camden today to talk about this important new port security law.� said Rep. LoBiondo. �The SAFE Ports Act, which I was proud to coauthor, will keep our Delaware River Ports and our port worker safer from a terrorist attack by enhancing security requirements on ports and vessels, increasing grant funding and subjecting inbound cargo to stronger screening requirements."
The SAFE Port Act will:
Require those in charge of security at our nation�s ports (Facility Security Officers) to be American citizens.
Require the Coast Guard to conduct unannounced periodic inspections of U.S. port facilities to ensure they comply with security requirements and requires a reassessment of foreign ports every 3 years to ensure they comply as well;
Set a hard deadline of July 2007 to complete the distribution of Transportation Worker Identification Credentials (TWIC) to port workers which will verify the identity of those entering our ports;
Set a hard deadline of April 2007 for the deployment of a Long Range Vessel Tracking System
that will enable the Coast Guard to further extend our borders and monitor vessels bound for the U.S.;
Set a hard deadline of October 2007 for DHS to issue regulations requiring foreign merchant mariners to carry an enhanced crewmember identification credential to verify the identity of foreigners calling on U.S. ports;
Require DHS to ensure that by September 2007, at least 98 percent of all inbound cargo containers are scanned for radiation by deploying radiation detection equipment at U.S ports, and;
Authorizes at least $400 million per year for Port Security Grants to harden U.S. ports against terrorist attacks and enhance capabilities to respond to attacks. It also ensures those grants are distributed based solely on terrorism risk.
Rep. LoBiondo introduced the Maritime Terminal Security Enhancement Act of 2006 (MTSEA) in the wake of the Dubai Ports deal where the operation of several U.S. port terminals was going to be controlled by a foreign state run company. MTSEA was incorporated into the SAFE Ports Act when the bill originally passed the House in May 2006. The bill was signed into law by the President on October 13, 2006.