US Congress has introduced legislation that will use federal funding to test the feasibility of 100% container scanning at two US ports.
In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Congress passed the Security and Accountability For Every Port Act of 2006 (SAFE), requiring all US-bound containers be scanned at ports of origin before being allowed into the US.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has repeatedly told Congress that the SAFE act isn’t the best or most cost-effective way to protect US ports from attacks.
However, Representative Jane Hahn said in a statement that the Scan Containers Absolutely Now Act was introduced on the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in order to show that efficient scanning can take place today without disrupting or slowing the flow of commerce.
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Hahn said: “Top security experts recommend that shipping containers entering our ports be scanned, but 13 years later we only scan 3% of incoming cargo. This is unacceptable.”
If the bill becomes law, ports would have to apply for the program, and the two chosen ports would receive inspection technology from the federal government, according to the Journal of Commerce.
In response, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson argued that ports cannot make use of the equipment to scan containers because they do not have the physical characteristics to install such systems.
This is in line with the World Shipping Council and the National Retail Federation who argue that the proposed legislation would increase the cost of shipping, but deliver little to no benefit.