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  • U.S. Trans. Sec'y Mineta Details Bush Admin. Port Security Plan, Stresses Need to Address Container Cargo and Intermodal Operations

  • In Q & A, Mineta indicates LB, LA ports are among areas where Feds are "focusing our attention."

    Cong. Millender-McDonald attends as Transportation Committee member, urges sea marshalls for LB, LA ports


    (December 7, 2001) -- Noting that LB and LA are among the areas where the federal government is focusing its attention, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta has detailed Bush administration plans for tightening security at U.S. ports and throughout the maritime transportation system.

    Testifying before the House subcommittee on transportation on December 6, Secretary Mineta stressed the need to address the "intermodal" nature of maritime transportation, including container cargo.

    "A cargo container arriving at a U.S. seaport today can be virtually anywhere in the heartland of America via truck and/or rail tomorrow. Accordingly, maritime security measures must be fully integrated with security measures being implemented in other modes of transportation," Secretary Mineta said in written testimony.

    LBReport.com posts the verbatim text of Secretary Mineta's written testimony below.

    Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald (D., Carson-LB) attended the subcommittee hearing as a member of the full House Transportation Committee (where she also serves on its Aviation subcommittee). In an extemporaneous opening statement, she urged more federal port security, including sea marshalls similar to air marshalls.

    "[W]hile the ports do inspect ships that are coming in, it's a very limited percentage, much too limited I might add, and secondarily, we need to make sure that we have sea marshalls as we have asked for air marshalls on airplanes," Cong. Millender-McDonald said.

    The Congresswoman also presented a written statement for the record, which stated in part, "While I was encouraged by additional security enhancements at the ports, I believe that we can and must do more to protect these vital physical assets."

    LBReport.com posts the Congresswoman's written statement verbatim, below. We also post an extended transcript excerpt of her extemporaneous verbal statement, below.

    In his prepared testimony, Transportation Secretary Mineta stressed:

    "[T]he system must fully recognize the intermodal nature of marine transportation. Cargo that is unloaded from a ship today in a seaport will move quickly to other modes of transportation. There is no better example than the cargo container -- a phenomenon that has been successful precisely because it is fundamentally intermodal -- a cargo container arriving at a U.S. seaport today can be virtually anywhere in the heartland of America via truck and/or rail tomorrow. Accordingly, maritime security measures must be fully integrated with security measures being implemented in other modes of transportation."

    When the subcommittee's ranking Democrat, Corrine Brown of Florida, noted it had been nearly three months since September 11 and asked when Congress would be able to pass and implement a program to assist ports with security, the Secretary replied that "we have already started working" with local ports, adding:

    "Because of the needs of, let's say, Seattle, we have three naval bases, as well as a large cargo operation, LA, Long Beach, there are places where we are focusing our interest."

    Indicating federal resources will be targeted where they are most needed, Secretary Mineta added, "One of the things I want to make sure, is that we don't take that peanut butter and just spread it all over the piece of bread...What we're trying to do is to determine the risk assessments and the vulnerabilities and then apply the resources accordingly."

    In his prepared testimony, Secretary Mineta stressed "maritime transportation is an inherently intermodal process. Passengers travel via air to embark on cruise ships. Ferry passengers access surface transportation modes in traveling to and from water transit facilities. And cargo moves from ships and barges to trucks, rail and pipeline and vice versa throughout the transportation system. It is especially in this area of container cargo that much attention has been rightfully focused."

    Elsewhere in his testimony, Secretary Mineta said the administration is seeking "expanded authority to conduct security assessments of foreign ports where necessary" and, "in order to facilitate the Coast Guardís ability to monitor and manage arriving vessel traffic, we are proposing to extend the jurisdiction of the Magnusson Act from 3 miles to twelve."

    Secretary Mineta also said the first step in the administration's security planning process would be to inventory "existing security systems and current plans for security enhancements at the nationís waterfront facilities and onboard passenger and cargo vessels."

    Secretary Mineta indicated that based on reviews of local security plans and risk assessments conducted at ports of national and strategic significance, he "will identify maritime facilities for which full-scale vulnerability assessments are required."

    Secretary Mineta also indicated the administration seeks "to extend our authority to license and regulate deepwater oil ports to include natural gas facilities."

    Below are written testimony by Secretary Mineta, the written statement submitted for the record by Cong. Juanita Millender-McDonald as well as the salient points of her extemporaneous opening statement.

  • Written testimony by U.S. Transportation Sec'y Norman Mineta

    Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee. I appreciate the opportunity to be here today to discuss our nationís maritime security strategy and ways to strengthen maritime and port security in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

    As many have observed, our Nation has entered a new era of security awareness and nowhere is that felt more strongly than in the field of transportation. This is a challenge that confronts us in all transportation modes -- from aviation to railways, highways, pipelines and waterways.

    At the Department of Transportation, we are working aggressively to build the security foundation we will need in this new era. We are working with our partners in state and local law enforcement, other government agencies, industry and labor and with the leadership and Members of the Congress. Thanks to your help, we are making great strides in addressing our most critical transportation security challenges.

    However, much work remains to be done -- particularly in the security of our coastal waters, our inland waterways, our port facilities and their intermodal connectors. While the most pressing security challenges have been met with existing authorities, we now must work to build a new network of protections -- one that transforms what has been a rapid response into a sustained effort that recognizes heightened security as a part of normal operations. In addition, marine security depends on the users of the system, shippers and operators, and affects the trade corridors they use.

    This work is of critical importance. Approximately 95 percent of our Nationís international trade moves by water. During a major military deployment, 90 percent of our military materials move through our nationís seaports. Preserving those assets and protecting the safety of the men and women who use them and the communities near them has been, and continues to be, one of the Administrationís top priorities. To accomplish this priority, a new partnership must be formed. A partnership between the commercial maritime industry and government must take advantage of existing commercial security systems, information systems and technological innovations.

    The Department and the Coast Guard have been well-equipped with existing statutory authority to develop the immediate maritime security response our Nation has required. A number of critical steps have been taken since September 11:

    The Coast Guard has refocused resources to protect high consequence targets in the marine environment, including critical bridges, port facilities and other infrastructure.

    The Department has issued emergency regulations requiring 96-hour advance notices of arrival for ships arriving in U.S. ports, and we expect to make that regulation permanent by the summer of 2003.

    The Coast Guard Intelligence Coordination Center, working with the Office of Naval Intelligence, has been tracking inbound high-interest vessels and providing intelligence to operational commanders and interested agencies.

    The Coast Guard has deployed personnel as Sea Marshals to ensure positive control of vessels containing critical cargos and in sensitive areas.

    The Maritime Administration has been meeting with members of the maritime industry to examine and address security issues and make recommendations regarding legislation and policy changes.

    The Maritime Administration has heightened security at its Ready Reserve Force fleet sites and outport locations as well as activated one ship to assist in Operation Enduring Freedom.

    The Maritime Administration and the General Services Administration have been working with other maritime agencies on ways to utilize "smart card" technology throughout the maritime and related industries in order to accurately identify employees working in security-sensitive areas. The cards that they have developed will use bio-metric identification such as: facial, fingerprint or iris.

    The St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation has been working closely with its Canadian counterpart to heighten security on the St. Lawrence river and ensure the protection of ocean access to our Great Lakes ports.

    These steps have formed the core of our near-term response to the new maritime and port security environment, and have been based on current authority and existing resources.

    However, I am glad to have the opportunity today to discuss the longer-term steps we hope to take as we build a new operational baseline for maritime and port security in America. I know that Admiral Loy will be able to expand on the efforts I will be describing today, and all of us at DOT are looking forward to working with the leadership and members of the House and the Senate in successfully building the new standard the nation requires.

    As you know, Mr. Chairman, shortly after September 11, I established two Rapid Response Teams to examine issues specifically relating to aviation security. Many of their recommendations have become part of the recently passed Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001.

    In addition, I directed the creation of a National Infrastructure Security Committee (or NISC) as an internal working group at the Department of Transportation. The NISCís charge is to focus on intermodal security issues, to ensure coordination of the Departmentís security work across all the modes, and to develop responses to meet the challenges of the new security environment.

    Within the NISC, Direct Action Groups have been created to look at each of the modes of transportation, to meet with experts from business, labor and other stakeholders, and to make recommendations for action on legislative, regulatory and diplomatic initiatives. The Maritime Direct Action Group was formed in anticipation of your September 24 letter to me and, over the last two months, the M-DAG has been meeting with maritime industry stakeholders and examining pending legislative proposals.

    Much of that work is reflected in the Departmental views S 1214, the Port, Maritime and Rail Security Act of 2001, introduced by Senator Hollings of South Carolina. We believe that many of the elements laid out in S. 1214 can be critically important tools in crafting a new paradigm in maritime and port security, and look forward to continuing to work with the leadership and Members of both bodies on this vital issue.

    There are some key principles which we believe should underlie our national efforts to build a new baseline of operations for maritime security:

  • Our approach must be comprehensive, reaching both security at port facilities and in the marine environment. It must reach the security of physical assets and the security of maritime and port personnel and passengers.

  • Due to the widely diverse nature of the maritime system across the country, and the widely divergent nature of operations among ports, local planning and coordination with local and state authorities will be crucial.
  • Like any transportation network, the maritime transportation system is in a constant state of growth and change. The system we create must therefore be one that is capable of evolving over time, and where the expectation of that evolution is clearly established.
  • And, finally, the system must fully recognize the intermodal nature of marine transportation. Cargo that is unloaded from a ship today in a seaport will move quickly to other modes of transportation. There is no better example than the cargo container -- a phenomenon that has been successful precisely because it is fundamentally intermodal -- a cargo container arriving at a U.S. seaport today can be virtually anywhere in the heartland of America via truck and/or rail tomorrow. Accordingly, maritime security measures must be fully integrated with security measures being implemented in other modes of transportation.

    The pieces of this puzzle that could be quickly implemented have been implemented under the Departmentís existing authority. However, some longer-term tools for security planning and coordination will require new authorities. And, with the maritime transportation system playing such a critical role in our Nationís international trade, some responses to our new security challenges cannot be adopted unilaterally, but will only work if implemented in an international effort with our trading partners and the International Maritime Organization.

    Integrated Planning

    Although it may not be readily apparent to those outside the maritime community, a focus exclusively on security at ports alone will not be enough. Security enhancements and improved security coordination at port facilities will be crucial, but the comprehensive approach we need must look beyond ports and port facilities and embrace the entire marine transportation system.

    Most Americans, when asked about port security, will no doubt immediately think of large seaports through which more than 6 million containers enter the country each year. However, our security planning cannot afford to ignore smaller ports, ports of all sizes handling bulk cargoes, or the security of our coastal waters and inland waterways.

    Security measures at these locations must be integrated and coordinated in order to close identified gaps and prevent new gaps from opening, and the Department must have enforcement authority to ensure compliance with the security plans that result from this process.

    The first step in this security planning process must be an inventory of existing security systems and current plans for security enhancements at the nationís waterfront facilities and onboard passenger and cargo vessels.

    We propose to coordinate the collection of that information through the Coast Guardís Captains of the Port. The jurisdictions of the Captains of the Port reach across the Nation. The men and women who serve in that role have well-established relationships with the maritime stakeholders within their jurisdictions and a deep familiarity with the operations and activities in their geographic areas of responsibility.

    Simultaneously, a National Maritime Security Advisory Committee would be established at the Department of Transportation to advise me, the new Under Secretary for Transportation Security, and the Commandant of the Coast Guard on guidelines to be used by regional Coast Guard commanders and local Coast Guard Captains of the Port in building maritime security plans within their jurisdictions.

    Finally, based on reviews of local security plans and risk assessments conducted at ports of national and strategic significance, I will identify maritime facilities for which full-scale vulnerability assessments are required.

    Local Planning and Coordination

    Based on the proposed statutory requirements, the Department will issue regulatory guidance for the development of local port security plans. However, how those guidelines play out from port to port will depend on the nature of the local facilities and the cargos that are handled through a given port. Given the diversity of port design and operations across the country, a strong component for local planning and coordination will be required.

    To facilitate that process, Local Port Security Committees chaired by the Captain of the Port should be established. These local committees would include representation from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, port authorities where those authorities exist, terminal owners and operators, organized labor, and others stakeholders.

    The local committees would apply the national guidelines to their own local conditions, identifying areas of port operations which must be considered secure and access to which will be limited to individuals who pass background checks. Local committees would also be responsible for ensuring that security plans for multiple facilities at a port interface properly with one another, coordinating landside security planning with waterside security operations.

    Local Port Security Committee members will, of necessity, have access to sensitive information during the course of their work and security clearances will be required for members.

    In addition, we are proposing local committees play a role in any program for federal grant assistance for security upgrades at port facilities. We believe that eligibility for any such grants should be contingent on the local committeeís certification that the project to be funded is necessary for compliance with the local port security plan.

    Finally, it is the role of the local committees to designate specific secure areas in ports as part of the local port security plan

    Evolving Plans to Match Evolving Conditions

    Each of the planning elements I have described -- security inventories and the development of local security plans under guidance from the Department, the work of the National Maritime Security Committee, and the support provided by Local Port Security Committees -- have the goal of building a system that continually reviews and refines its security protocols.

    Security inventories will take a first look at existing systems, and local plans will be developed from that starting point. Input from the field will be reviewed by the National Maritime Security Committee and further national refinements made.

    We strongly agree that local plans must be reviewed at least annually, and that security exercises should take place in the jurisdictions of all local committees at least once every three years. The results of these reviews and exercises will likewise be reviewed nationally as inputs for the next round of refinements to the national maritime security plan.

    Recognizing Maritime Transportationís Intermodal Foundation

    As I mentioned, maritime transportation is an inherently intermodal process. Passengers travel via air to embark on cruise ships. Ferry passengers access surface transportation modes in traveling to and from water transit facilities. And cargo moves from ships and barges to trucks, rail and pipeline and vice versa throughout the transportation system.

    It is especially in this area of container cargo that much attention has been rightfully focused. Containerization has been a boon to international trade since its development in the 1950ís. The ease of movement afforded by the ability of a container to be unloaded from a ship and quickly attached to a truck or rail car has made the container one of the most useful elements in the cargo transportation system.

    It has been estimated that more than 6 million containers enter the country via U.S. ports each year, representing more than 11 million twenty-foot container equivalent units (TEUs) of cargo. The overwhelming majority of container cargo is arriving in the U.S. as imported goods.

    The U.S. Customs Service has the lead in setting standards for the information that is to be provided by shippers in order to receive customs clearance and for conducting inspections of incoming cargo. We are requesting that Customs be given enhanced authority to specify the nature of cargo information they may require for clearing shipments or allowing their in-bond transportation beyond the port of arrival.

    DOT will continue to support Customs and our colleagues at the Department of the Treasury in carrying out that work, and we will continue to explore opportunities to make the cargo transportation system both more secure and more efficient.

    To aid that goal, we are proposing that Secretary OíNeill, Secretary Evans and I establish a joint task force to work with the transportation industry to develop performance standards for the tracking of shipments, containers and contents. Such systems could serve the dual purposes of aiding the work of Customs in clearing and processing cargo shipments and of aiding shippers and carriers in efforts to more closely monitor their own cargo movements and to limit cargo theft and tampering.

    In addition, we are proposing that Treasury and DOT work with the National Institutes of Standards and Technology at the Department of Commerce, and with the transportation industry, to develop enhanced performance standards for seals on cargo traveling in-bond and for locks to better secure containers during transport.

    New Statutory Authorities

    The Department and the Coast Guard have broad authority within the area of maritime transportation to set security and safety standards and to enforce them. However, we are seeking new and enhanced authority to broaden safety and security operations, and to improve maritime security enforcement:

    We are proposing that the Secretary of Transportation be given expanded authority to conduct security assessments of foreign ports where necessary. The Department will also work with international organizations for the adoption of international standards for port security, similar to international airport standards promulgated by the International Civil Aviation Organization.

    In order to facilitate the Coast Guardís ability to monitor and manage arriving vessel traffic, we are proposing to extend the jurisdiction of the Magnusson Act from 3 miles to twelve.

    We are proposing that new Maritime Safety and Security Teams be established for rapid deployment to enhance port security operations in areas of heightened threat.

    We are proposing new criminal penalties, similar to those in place for aviation, for acts against vessels and maritime facilities. We also propose a new penalty for use of a dangerous weapon on all passenger vessels, similar to the penalty recently enacted in the USA Patriot Act for offenses involving a ferry or mass transit system.

    We propose to extend our authority to license and regulate deepwater oil ports to include natural gas facilities.

    We also propose criminal penalties for acts of maritime terrorism, such as placing destructive devices or harmful substances into our waters.

    Mr. Chairman, as I indicated earlier, our response to the new maritime and port security threat environment can never reach the point of being "finished." The transportation networks that make up the marine transportation system are constantly evolving. The security threats and safety challenges we face in marine transportation are constantly evolving.

    Our response to those challenges must be constantly evolving, as well. The proposals I have described will establish the foundation we need to build on the progress already made, and to build a process for that kind of continual refinement.

    Our partnership with the leadership and Members of the Congress has always been a critical part of our work; it will be an even more vital part of our efforts to build the kind of secure, efficient and safe marine transportation system the American people deserve.

    I look forward to working with all of you to reach that goal. Thank you very much.

    Written statement delivered for the record by Cong. Juanita Millender-McDonald

    I want to first thank Chairman LoBiondo and Ranking Member Brown for calling today's hearing. Port security is particularly important to me because the Port of Long Beach is located in my district and because of the close proximity of the Port of Los Angeles. I am pleased by this subcommittee's attention to this topic, as it is abundantly clear that the events of September 11, 2001 have forever changed our nation and the manner by which we address potential security threats to our infrastructure.

    In the wake of September 11th, our nation has begun to aggressively address many of these potential threats. My visits to the Port of Long Beach and to the Port of Los Angeles confirmed that new procedures and additional security must continue to be enhanced. While I was encouraged by additional security enhancements at the ports, I believe that we can and must do more to protect these vital physical assets.

    The Port of Long Beach when combined with the Port of Los Angeles represents the third busiest container port complex in the world. The ports employ more than 500,000 individuals from all over Southern California, and by the year 2020 will generate more than 1 million trade related jobs. The ports combine to handle and facilitate the processing of more than 148 million metric tons, with an estimated value of $178.2 billion.

    The Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles clearly have a significant economic impact on California and the nation's economy. America's ports are our nation's economic gateways to the world, as well as centers for travel and tourism. They serve as platforms from which we launch and project our nation's military strength. It is clear that our ports are targets for terrorism and we must do all we can to ensure their safe and efficient operation.

    I am eager to hear from today's witnesses and I look forward to working with my colleagues as we continue to address the security of our vital transportation infrastructure.

    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Salient points of extemporaneous opening statement by Cong. Juanita Millender-McDonald

    I have visited the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and have found that there is disturbing revelations there. While they are ready for anything that happens, there's limited personnel that's there because they're having to be driven from where they normally secure the port to other parts around the northern areas of California because of the attacks of September 11. And so they are left with very limited personnel.

    We also recognize that while the ports do inspect ships that are coming in, it's a very limited percentage, much too limited I might add, and secondarily, we need to make sure that we have sea marshalls as we have asked for air marshalls on airplanes. It is critical because of the type of bulk that comes through the ports, and the other types of things that come through the ports, even human, I guess, cargo that comes through the ports. And so it is important that we have very strict security at the port system.

    We have great folks who are working at the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs, but they need help..."


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