Enhancing port security at the Port of Baltimore



J.B. Hanson, Public Information Officer, Maryland Port Administration, Baltimore, USA


The two words ‘Port Security’ hold a much more sinister connotation than they did five years ago. True, ports throughout the world still look for illegal contraband, whether it’s in the form of illegal aliens or goods, but there’s something else; something more threatening lurking in today’s seaports.

Bio-terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction are not new terms; both have been used for decades. The use of bio-terrorism or bio-tactics has been around for at least two thousand years.

Warriors were known to pour poisons from upstream that would eventually find its way into the enemy’s camp. Decomposed and plague ridden bodies were catapulted over castle walls to infect the sequestered enemy.

As we have evolved in our technology, so has the means to create new forms of existing viruses, new bio-terror elements. For millennia, disease could only travel as fast a person could walk. Today, a toxic virus can be on the other side of the world within 24 hours. It can be concealed in a vial, on the back of a postage stamp or within a human being. A simple shake of a hand or a sneeze could create a domino effect of death.

Detecting these forms of attack is considerably more difficult than securing our ports from the other means of terrorist infiltration. Smuggling in mechanisms to construct ‘dirty bombs’ or bombs is another story. With today’s highly evolving technologies, we can scan and x-ray effectively through inches of steel. Containers from ships can be scanned at a rate of one every 30 seconds. The United States Customs and Border Protection established the Container Security Initiative to diminish the chances of Weapons of Mass Destruction from entering American seaports. As a result of this stringent programme, the international maritime community is coming together as a collective body to make ports around the world safer.

Enhancing port security
Prior to the events of that tragic day in September four and a half years ago, Maryland’s Port of Baltimore had been updating their security measures. Security projects were completed after the attack in New York and at the Pentagon. In less than a year after September 11th, the United States Congress began the approval of funds to enhance ports throughout the country. Since June of 2002, Maryland’s Port of Baltimore has received…


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