Ports can’t let their guard down
September 11, 2011 - LM Editorial
Port and industry leaders gathered in Seattle for the 100th Annual Convention of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) paused for a moment of silence on Sunday to honor those lost in the tragic event of 9/11.
Among those victims of terrorism were 84 industry colleagues from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey who perished at the World Trade Center.
But this was not just about mourning, or reflecting on the past. A new note of urgency was sounded by AAPA president and CEO, Kurt Nagle:
“With the death of Bin Laden, critical infrastructure facilities, such as ports, are being asked to be extra vigilant to protect against retaliatory terrorist attacks.”
He was also quick to note that in addition to making continued enhancements, the Port Security Grant Program helps pay for maintaining and replacing our current security assets at ports.
In the decade since Sept. 11, 2001, America’s seaports and the federal government have joined forces to make major gains in fortifying and hardening port facilities against intruder attack. Since then, public port authorities have made terrorism detection and prevention one of their top priorities. With the combined efforts of port authorities and initiatives of federal agencies within the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including the U.S. Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Domestic Nuclear Protection Office, ports are significantly safer now than prior to 9/11.
As we have reported in the past, more than a 50 percent funding level cut recommended for FEMA’s State and Local Program grants – which includes the Port Security Grant Program – could impact the current security capabilities of many U.S. ports as well as hamper their ability to carry out their five-year port protection plans.
One hopes that wiser minds will prevail when it comes to leaving our ocean cargo gateways in a vulnerable position again.
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