Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Congress warned on dirty bombs

US ports are at risk of an attack by radioactive 'dirty bombs', according to a supply chain expert testifying on Capitol Hill.

Stephen Flynn, a former policy adviser to President Barack Obama, warned that only 19% of containers arriving in the United States in 2013 deemed by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to be at high risk for containing a weapon of mass destruction were inspected at a foreign port.

One of the reasons, according to Flynn's testimony on 27 October before the maritime subcommittee of the US House of Representative's transportation committee, is that such inspections can disrupt port terminal operations.

"If CBP routinely asked that as little as 1 to 2% of US-bound containers in a major overseas port to be subject to examination before loading, it would likely completely overwhelm the inspection facility," Flynn said.

To reduce the risk of a dirty bomb attack, Flynn suggested that the USD3 billion to USD5 billion it would cost to deploy non-intrusive container inspection equipment at ports around the world could be paid for through a USD10 to USD15 per container security fee, much like the security fees charged by airlines.

"Such a fee-based cost-recovery approach would allow for equipment to be upgraded with new technologies as frequently as every two years," Flynn said.

Meanwhile, almost 10 years have passed since radiation portal monitors (RPMs) were mandated in the United States, and "questions have been raised regarding who pays for the maintenance of the RPMs, who is responsible for paying for new portals during a port expansion, and what is the long-term obligation for the next generation," according to testimony submitted to the hearing by the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA).

The group urged that CBP "request adequate federal funding to purchase, install, and maintain all RPM equipment at ports throughout the United States".

Alternatively, the US Department of Homeland Security should consider creating a standalone priority for funding RPMs within the agency's Port Security Grant Program, the AAPA said.

No comments:

Post a Comment