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Mayor O'Neill Tells Capitol Hill Anti-Terrorism Hearing on Water & Infrastructure Security LB Lacks Sufficient Funds In Future Years To Sustain Three Anti-Terrorism Programs Started With Three Fed'l Grants

Mayor seeks fourth federal anti-terrorism grant, Port related Advanced Transportation Information Management System, more funds for Coast Guard, Customs and local projects she portrays as of nat'l importance: 710 fwy, new Port area bridge & Los Cerritos wetlands


(October 10, 2001) -- Testifying that despite receiving three federal grants meant to protect LB from terrorism and set a worthy example for other cities, LB City Hall lacks sufficient funds in future years to sustain these programs, Mayor Beverly O'Neill told a Congressional anti-terrorism hearing that LB City Hall wants a fourth federal anti-terrorism grant and more federal money for Port and water security.

The Mayor suggested the fourth anti-terrorism grant be used specifically "to prove-out water and environmental infrastructure security measures of significance to America." She also portrayed several LB area projects including 710 freeway improvement, new Port bridges and projects at the Los Cerritos Wetlands as meriting federal money on grounds they had national importance or were security related.

The hearing by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure was webcast live by C-SPAN 3. LBReport.com provides below a transcript of Mayor O'Neill's testimony as delivered.

The Committee hearing's topic was the "Terrorism Threat to U.S. Water Infrastructure" to review of efforts of federal agencies, local governments and private sector entities to prevent water supply systems, dams, and hazardous chemicals from being used against the U.S. in a terrorist attack.

Witnesses included the FBI's Director, National Infrastructure Protection Center; the Army's Assistant Secretary for Civil Works and the EPA's Assistant Administrator, Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response.

Mayor O'Neill, who left last night's City Council meeting early to catch a "red eye" flight to Washington, was among local government and private sector representatives on a second panel heard by the Committee.

The Mayor was introduced by Committee member Cong. Juanita Millender-McDonald (D, Carson), who currently represents Wrigley and western parts of LB. Her Congressional district was shifted in CA's Democrat controlled redistricting last month and will include roughly 80% LB in the November, 2002 election.

"She is indeed a world class Mayor from a world class city," Cong. Millender-McDonald said, telegraphing the Mayor's upcoming call for more federal money by adding, "[W]e have so much in place in terms of seaport security, citywide security, [but] there is a need for increased funding of resources so that we can sustain those things that we've put in place. But it's because of her leadership that we have begun to look at the security that is so vital to a large city such as the city of Long Beach."

Mayor O'Neill said LB had received three federal anti-terrorism grants:

  • In 1998, under the Nunn-Lugar-Dominici Terrorism Protection Act, LB was one of the largest cities in the nation chosen to focus on anti-terrorist training and equipping for local responders and carried out a Department of Defense Grant Program.

  • LB was thereafter given a second grant, this one from the Department of Health and Human Services, geared to responding to a chemical and biological event.

  • Finally, the Department of Justice provided City Hall with a demonstration grant to buy equipment required in dealing with a terrorist event.

    The Mayor acknowledged that although the city "has a major responsibility to provide for secure infrastructure...to fully benefit from the three federal anti-terrorism grants..., we find ourselves in a position of having insufficient resources to sustain the programs in the out years."

    The Mayor went on to propose that LB be given a fourth anti-terrorism grant and other security and local projects (detailed in the transcript, below).

    Following the Mayor's testimony, the House Committee chair moved on to the next speaker without comment.

    LBReport.com provides Mayor O'Neill's testimony as delivered, below. Our transcript is unofficial, prepared by us:

    Mr. Chairman and Members, I thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today...And it is a pleasure for me to be here to testify to a committee that has my two Congressional representatives [Horn and Millender-McDonald] that represent us so well...

    So I am a Mayor of a large city, the city of Long Beach, California, with about half a million people. But also my involvement with the League of California Cities, I will be president next year, and the National Conference of Mayors may provide a special perspective to this Subcommittee [sic, it's a House Committee]

    I'm pleased to present to you today, my Cityís security concerns that are under the jurisdiction of this distinguished Committee.

    Talking about citywide security, the City of Long Beach has in place, in coordination with the State of California, an emergency response plan with hazardous material response plan, which comply with the Standardized Emergency Management System.

    In 1998, Long Beach was selected under the Nunn-Lugar-Dominici Terrorism Protection Act as one of the largest cities in the nation to focus on anti-terrorist training and equipping for local responders. We carried out, therefore, a Department of Defense Grant Program.

    Then, Long Beach was awarded a second grant, this one from the Department of Health and Human Services, [for an] anti-terrorism grant, geared to responding to a chemical and biological event.

    And lastly, the Department of Justice also provided the City with a demonstration grant to purchase equipment required in dealing with a terrorist event.

    While we are preparing ourselves, we haven't had to use these trainings that have happened through the grant program, Mr. Chairman, the federal investment in Long Beach is not misplaced. We host Americaís largest Port, Boeing Company, the C-17 aircraft production, as well as other aerospace industry such as Gulfstream Aerospace. We are an example of a city that has a major responsibility to have secure infrastructure.

    However, to fully benefit from the three Federal anti-terrorism grants mentioned, we find ourselves in a position of having insufficient resources to sustain the programs in the out years.

    And talking about seaport security, the Port of Long Beach, a Department of my City, along with the neighboring Port of Los Angeles, comprise the largest seaport complex in the United States and the third largest in the world. This complex handles over 1/3 of all U.S. cargo.

    Several aspects of the Port of Long Beach operations are under the jurisdiction of this subcommittee [sic] and represent significant national security relevance, which is the focus of this hearing.

    On September 11, the Port Security Taskforce was promptly activated. It coordinates national, state and local vessel security and disaster response functions.

    We work together with the Coast Guard, with Customs, Port authorities, Port security as well as the local police and fire departments.

    As a National Port Readiness Port, to assure defense related cargo through put, the Port of Long Beach stands ready to serve emerging deployment demands.

    The Portís general infrastructure improvement needs now to take a new national security importance. We need a new bridge over a federal waterway. The I-710 federal highway needs reconstruction to continue carrying 35% of Americaís trade cargo, as well as increased aid to the Coast Guard and to the Customs.

    You know we, on September 11, instituted a procedure to provide security for the Port as all the ships were left behind the breakwater before they could enter the Port, they were entered by the Coast Guard, they looked at the cargo, the manifest, and for a while the ships outside of the breakwater looked like a parking lot for major vessels.

    Senator Hollings' port security legislation is indeed welcome, but we're concerned that it may bring unfunded mandates which would require ports to perform functions without accompanying federal appropriations.

    The Portís proposed Intelligent Transportation System appropriations request, which is now before the Conferees here, is meant to efficiently schedule truck travel, and intermodal travel is becoming increasingly difficult, over limited interstate roadways.

    This new innovative system also serves as an efficient port security monitoring system that we need and thankfully it is ready to build.

    Now talking about our water resources security, I would like to turn to the subject of how Long Beach is protecting its own water supply and also assuring its delivery, especially under these emergency circumstances. And accompanying me here today is Kevin Wattier, who is the General Manager of the [LB] Water Dept., we have a municipal water department.

    Mr. Wattier has overseen operations at about five of our nation's largest water treatment facilities. He's behind me here.

    The Long Beach Water Department has built and operates the nationís largest groundwater treatment facility. We deliver an uninterrupted supply of quality water to our citizens and industry through a reservoir system of thirty-three fully enclosed tanks containing over 110 million gallons of water, 900 miles of pipeline, 18,000 gate control valves and more than 6,000 fire hydrants.

    We have operated these facilities in a manner that is efficient and environmentally responsible. Nonetheless, since September 11, we have taken a critical look at protecting our water supply and the way in which it's delivered throughout the city.

    For example, we limit access to treatment and supply facilities. We eliminated information on filtration and water treatment supplied to the public through internet and other publications. We also intensified water sample testing for all twenty-six of our Department wells.

    While we made significant investments in new water infrastructure, due to the events of September 11, we must now balance the need to replace old infrastructure with the immediate need for security related infrastructure improvements. Our security upgrades to facilities include new cameras, intrusion alarms, and perimeter maintenance. We are evaluating increases in security related staffing levels. We are assessing new water quality monitoring systems that give the earliest possible warning of water contamination.

    Fortunately, for some time now, by capitalizing on emerging technology, the Long Beach Water Department found solutions not only to meet current needs but also to fully anticipate future water security infrastructure requirements. We have completed the third year of a 20-year program to replace and reline the Cityís entire old unlined cast iron pipe at a cost of $10 million per year.

    We are reaping the benefits of this program, as water main breaks have decreased by over 50 percent, and water quality, fire flow and water pressure are significantly improved. These actions certainly support our needed water source protection and water delivery priorities.

    It's no wonder then that the gap between available funding and the costs incurred for infrastructure improvements is widening. It is evident that this funding gap will increase due to the added demand occasioned by new national anti-terrorism priorities.

    Certainly, municipal water utilities like Long Beach need assistance.

    Just a few words on environmental security. The city finds that its attention to environmental security now more compelling than ever.

    The city hosts the Los Cerritos wetlands. It is located immediately adjacent to our downtown and is, therefore, subject to degradation pressures, if not to the threat of terrorism.

    We are working with the Corps of Engineers and other local and federal agencies to enhance and protect these wetlands.

    Interesting, the Los Cerritos wetlands could have future relevance to new Long Beach water supply initiatives such as a new generation of desalinization.

    FY2002 Appropriations will enable those wetlands initiatives as well as continue Federal Water Reclamation programs that have been underway for three years to protect the ground water supply.

    In conclusion Mr. Chairman and Members, Congressional consideration of new security-related, critical infrastructure funding is extremely appropriate at this time.

    However, Mr. Chairman, if you ask me what my immediate federal assistance Long Beach needs to help enable the foregoing security measures, I would urge, first that the Appropriationsí Conferees accept Congressman Hornís and Senator Feinsteinís request to fund the Advanced Transportation Information Management System. That system provides dramatically heightened port security, now especially necessary at $7.2 million.

    Secondly, in the spirit of demonstrating how to improve national infrastructure security, I would recommend that a fourth federal anti-terrorism grant be made available to be used specifically to prove-out water and environmental infrastructure security measures of significance to America.

    I thank you very much for this opportunity. It's the first time I've been here to do this and I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you.


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