In the news: Port securityUnease growing with Hutchison nuclear radiation detection deal

Published 28 March 2006

The Bush administration will start negotiating with the Bahamian government to allow U.S. custom agents to monitor nuclear radiation detection operations at Freeport conducted by Hong Kong company — or the deal may go the way of the DP World and Check Point-Sourcefire deals went

There is a growing discomfort in Congress with the Bush administration’s decision to award a no-bid contract to Hutchison Whampoa, the Honk Kong-based company, to conduct nuclear radiation operations on behalf of the United States in the port of Freeport in the Bahamas. Legislators are especially bothered by two things: The deal stipulates that no U.S. personnel — customs agents, security officers — will be present on the docks and in the terminals to supervise and monitor the radiation detection operations; these will be conducted solely by the company’s employees, and supervised by the company’s personnel; the second aspect is the nature of the company and its billionaire owner, Li Ka-shing: Three-and-a-half years ago Hutchison moved to purchase a 61.5 percent majority interest in the then-bankrupt Global Crossing. The administration blocked the deal, citing national security reasons and pointing to the intimate relations between the company’s owner and the Chinese government. In the late 1990s the U.S. intelligence community concluded that some of Hutchison’s top level employees were also doing work for the Chinese government.