NY/NJ Port Authority offers national port security recommendations

Published 21 December 2006

Suggestions include minimum mandatory cargo inspection standards, a federal port and cargo policy director, and a port security user fee to offset security costs

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey this week announced that a task force comprised of a nonpartisan group of government and business officials had developed a slate of recommendations to improve security at all 361 of the nation’s ports. “Throughout their history, our nation’s seaports operated out of the public spotlight, even though they pose as much as or a greater security risk than the airports or railroads that people use every day” said Port Authority Chairman Anthony R. Coscia. “The federal government must realize the vulnerabilities that our ports face and work with us to identify new ways to reduce risks.” Among the task force’s recommendations are:

* The adoption of federal legislation sanctioning minimum mandatory cargo security standards that use innovative technology and business practices to monitor every cargo shipment.

* The presidential appointment of a National Port and Cargo Security Director, reporting to the Director of Homeland Security, who has ultimate responsibility and accountability for coordinating port and cargo security activities throughout the various federal agencies as well as the international community.

* Establishment of a nationwide “Port Security User Fee,” not later than January 1, 2008, dedicated exclusively to U.S. ports based on size, cargo volume, and risk. This fee would be used to offset capital and operating costs incurred by port facility owners/operators associated with security installations and operations.

* Establish response and recovery plans that are unique to the regional environment of each U.S. port, allowing individual ports to return to “normal business” as efficiently as possible after a disaster. Mandate and conduct annual exercises that test the quality of each port’s response and recovery plans.

* Adopt federal legislation that requires every regulated maritime facility and Coast Guard Captain of the Port to implement a comprehensive risk-management plan that will form the basis for resource allocation decision making, similar to the protocols for other state, urban area, and mass transit funding.

-read more in this Port Authority news release