Freight News, Logistics

US container scanning kicked into the long grass again

[ May 30, 2014   //   ]

The US Department of Homeland Security has announced a further two year dely for its troubled scheme to security screen all inbound containers. It appears that major technical and logistical problems remain and there are also concerns about the effect on the country’s international trade.

According to a letter from chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Thomas Carper, scanning containers would have also hit cargo flows and hinder trade.

Director General of the British International Freight Association (BIFA), Peter Quantrill, said he not surprised by the US climbdown. While welcoming the move, he questioned whether it was the best way to protect the US in any case.

He commented: “As BIFA has said repeatedly, the Department of Homeland Security has consistently underestimated the huge sizeof the task in hand relative to the costs both to the US Government and foreign governments, as well as, importantly, the limited ability of contemporary screening technology to penetrate dense cargo, or large quantities of cargo in shipping containers.”

Quantrill adds: “Media reports suggest that the US Government now doubts whether it would be able to implement the mandate of 100 percent scanning, even in the long term, and it would appear that it now shares BIFA’s long-standing opinion that it is not the best use of taxpayer resources to meet US port security and homeland security needs.

“We have always said that expanding screening with available technology would slow the flow of commerce and drive up costs to consumers without bringing significant security benefits.

“Whilst the latest news of a two-year delay appears to be a healthy dose of common sense at the US Department of Homeland Security, BIFA still believes that the US Government ought to take an even bolder step and repeal the original legislation.”

This, Quantrill suggested that this would the Department and industry to continue to focus on real solutions, including strengthened risk-based management systems to address any security gaps that remain in global supply chains.

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