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U.S. launches new intl port security plan

Dec. 11, 2006 at 8:06 AM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- The U.S. Departments of Homeland Security and Energy have launched a new Senior Freight Initiative to boost port security.

The DHS and the DOE Thursday announced the first phase of the SFI. The DOE's National Nuclear Safety Administration called it "an unprecedented effort to build upon existing port security measures by enhancing the federal government's ability to scan containers for nuclear and radiological materials overseas and to better assess the risk of inbound containers."

Major U.S. port terminal operators, ocean carriers, and shippers have promised to cooperate with the SFI at in their overseas facilities, the NNSA said.

"Our highest priority and greatest sense of urgency has to be aimed at preventing a nuclear weapon or dirty bomb attack against the homeland," said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. "This initiative advances a comprehensive strategy to secure the global supply chain and cut off any possibility of exploitation by terrorists.

"I appreciate the commitment of our international allies in sharing more information and harmonizing our risk reduction efforts."

"Improving port security worldwide helps to improve our security right here at home. Through the Secure Freight partnership with the Department of Homeland Security, we will be able to screen more cargo than ever before using the advanced detection technology, and be in a better position to prevent nuclear materials or devices from being smuggled into the United States or partner countries," Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said.

The NNSA said the first phase of the SFI would deploy nuclear detection devices in Port Qasim in Pakistan, Puerto Cortes in Honduras, Southampton in Britain, Port Salalah in Oman; the port of Singapore; and the Gamman terminal at Busan in South Korea.

"Beginning in early 2007, containers from these ports will be scanned for radiation and information risk factors before they are allowed to depart for the United States," the agency said.

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