Nearly $5 million in Transportation Security Administration grants to Louisiana ports on the Mississippi River includes $824,000 for risk assessments that will help local officials identify security vulnerabilities and develop plans to foil terrorism, TSA said today at a news conference of those responsible for security at the Port of South Louisiana in Reserve.
Steven Froehlich, the National Manager for Stakeholder Relations, said that those mitigation plans also lay the foundation for ports to continually make improvements and to employ new security technologies.
"Simply put, we are acting to protect cargo from terrorists, and to prevent suspicious cargo from entering our country," Froehlich said. "Nothing less than American lives and the well-being of our economy are at stake."
Froehlich noted that several agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Maritime Administration (MARAD), have long worked to make ports and cargo as secure as possible. "TSA is honored to now be a part of this very important team," he said.
The TSA has awarded $624,000 to the Port of South Louisiana and $200,000 to the Port of Lake Charles to do risk assessments. Nationally, nearly $5 million in grants have been awarded to 23 local ports for risk assessments. Those grants were among 79 totaling $92.3 million awarded in June for port security. TSA is taking applications for new security grants totaling $105 million for port protection. Applications are due Feb. 27, and TSA will assess applications in conjunction with the Coast Guard and MARAD.
The five ports of South Louisiana start with Plaquemine on the Gulf of Mexico and stretch 254 miles up the Mississippi - to St. Bernard, New Orleans, South Louisiana and finally Baton Rouge
. When combined, the port system is the world's largest in terms of tonnage with 462 million tons handled last year. Of that, some 260 million tons of cargo was shipped through a single port, the Port of South Louisiana, last year, making it the busiest in the United States and third busiest in the world.
Other grants to Louisiana include $3.7 million to the Port of New Orleans for fencing and other physical barriers and improved electronic access control; $178,000 for BASF Corp., at Baton Rouge for lighting, fencing, and other vulnerability reduction projects; $80,000 for LBC Baton Rouge for monitoring equipment; and grants totaling $201,757 for CITGO Petroleum Corp., Port of Lake Charles, for a security boat, boat ramps and boat house.