Tests on New Technology To Secure Cargo Movement

Thursday, June 06, 2002
U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta announced the successful completion of a test of new technology that will help to secure cargo containers entering ports and border crossings throughout the United States. The test, carried out through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) program, involved the use of electronic seals (E-Seals), a radio frequency device that transmits shipment information as it passes reader devices and indicates if a container has been compromised. “This new technology will help to enhance the security of our nation’s transportation system by enabling us to track cargo shipments into the United States,” Secretary Mineta said. “E-Seals are just one part of our department’s security-focused program that applies both technology and human capital to safeguard America’s transportation system.” Secretary Mineta said that the test represents the ongoing commitment by DOT to ensure appropriate security safeguards can be implemented for the transportation of people and goods, and especially for shipping containers during domestic and international movements. The E-seal project is designed to track commercial in-bond container shipments from their point of inspection at seaports, along trade corridors, to their point of clearance at U.S. land border crossings. At checkpoints and border crossings, electronic door seals enable regulatory agencies to determine whether the container has been tampered with. In addition, the E-seal technology can facilitate border clearance activities and commercial vehicle enforcement and offer potential benefits to freight carriers that include greater accuracy in manifest information, reduced paperwork, improved port and Customs clearances, and opportunities for shipment tracking. The E-Seals test involved cargo containers carrying in-bond shipments of auto parts destined for a Canadian assembly plant. The E-Seals were affixed by Westwood Shipping to containers in Nagano, Japan, shipped through the port of Seattle, and cleared by U.S. and Canadian Customs at the international border crossing in Blaine, WA. The E-Seals project is part of a 2½-year effort by USDOT’s ITS Joint Program Office to improve the security, safety and efficiency of freight movement through the deployment of new intermodal freight technology. This and other ongoing ITS operational tests are the first steps in a long-term program leading to the development and installation of a nationwide container security system. Since December 2001, the U.S. Department of Transportation has been co-chairing, along with the U.S. Customs Service, an interagency Container Working Group that is working with all appropriate federal agencies and the transportation industry to improve container, truck, and rail car security. Among agencies and firms participating in the E-Seal project were the Customs Service, the Washington State Department of Transportation, the Washington State Trucking Association, and the ports of Seattle and Tacoma. In addition to Westwood Shipping, Maersk-Sealand and American President Lines also participated in the operational test.
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