Port workers, longshoremen, truckers and others at the Port of Tacoma
, will soon become the first in the region to enroll in the Department of Homeland Security
's Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program. The program's goal is to ensure that any individual who has unescorted access to secure areas of port facilities and vessels has received a thorough background check and is not a security threat.
Thousands of workers are expected to enroll over the coming months at the Port of Tacoma and Port of Seattle which
begins enrollment mid-December. Nationwide, more than 1 million workers with unescorted access to secure areas will apply during the rest of 2007 and 2008.
"The start of enrollment is one more step in our effort to prevent persons who are a threat from gaining access to secure areas of port facilities," said Maurine Fanguy, TWIC program director for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
Tacoma, the Port of Honolulu and the Port of Baton Rouge, La. all start enrollment Nov. 7 and will bring to five the total number of ports actively enrolling in the nationwide program. Ultimately, established fixed enrollment centers will be in place at 147 ports along with mobile enrollment centers at dozens of other locations as needed.
"TWIC will be a crucial part of our multi-layered risk based approach to maritime security," said Coast Guard Commander Mark McCadden, chief of prevention at Sector Seattle. "It will strengthen security and access control to the port and on thousands of other maritime facilities and vessels."