FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 15, 2005
Citing 9/11 Report Card, Schumer Urges Administration to Include $1b in FY07 Budget For Screening Systems Like SureScan’s
In This Year’s Appropriations Bill, Schumer Aggressively Lobbied For Measure That Allocated $45 Million to Deploy Machines Like SureScan
SureScan Developing State-of-the-Art Bomb-Detecting Device With Application For Airports, Ports and Mail; Could Bring Hundreds Of Job To Southern Tier
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today wrote a letter to President George W. Bush, urging him to include at least $1 billion in funding in next year’s budget both to deploy baggage screening equipment, like SureScan’s machines, and to install in-line screening systems in commercial airports. According to the 9/11 Commission and aviation security experts, the best way to scan and secure checked baggage before it is placed on a commercial flight is by using in-line baggage screening systems. SureScan, in Endicott, has created a state of the art in-line screening system that can detect bomb devices at a much faster rate than existing systems, processing 1000 bags per hour as opposed to the 300 that current devices can scan and have fewer false alarms.
“Additional funding will be a step in the right direction not only for national security but for SureScan and the entire Greater Binghamton region,” Schumer said. “We need to ensure that the TSA and airports have the funds they need to implement the first-rate homeland security systems SureScan is creating. This technology could greatly improve airport security if it is deployed widely, but we need to investment both to purchase these machines and to implement the in-line screening systems at our airports. This could also mean hundreds of new jobs for the area. I will continue to fight hard for SureScan as they work to make this country a safer place.”
SureScan plans to manufacture a bomb-detecting device that is designed to be much faster than existing ones, processing 1000 bags per hour as opposed to the 300 that current devices can scan. In addition, this device will have fewer false alarms (10% as opposed to the 30% that current ones experience), and is less expensive than current technology. In addition, SureScan plans to manufacture larger machines for processing cargo.
In a personal letter to President Bush, Schumer wrote, “Seventeen years ago next week, a bomb placed in a passenger’s checked baggage exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people. This tragic event could be easily repeated. The 9/11 Public Disclosure Project rated the government’ s effort to screen and secure checked baggage a “D”, specifically saying “improvements here have not been made a priority by the Congress or the administration. Progress on implementation of in-line screening has been slow. The main impediment is inadequate funding.” We need to be doing much more to prevent this type of attack… I urge you to include at least $1 billion in your budget so airports across the country can purchase this vital equipment and implement the in-line screening systems as the 9/11 Commission has recommended.”
To be able to sell the device to airports and other government agencies for potentially lucrative contracts, there needs to be official TSA certification. SureScan, a private company in Endicott is currently in close communications with the TSA and should be submitting for certification in the coming months.
TSA has not determined the total cost of installing in-line EDS baggage screening systems at airports that it had determined need these systems to maintain compliance with the congressional mandate to screen all checked baggage for explosives using explosive detection systems, or to achieve more efficient and streamlined checked baggage screening operations. However, TSA and airport industry association officials have estimated that the total cost of installing in-line systems is—a rough orderof-magnitude estimate—from $3 billion to more than $5 billion.
In May, Schumer met with EIT’s and Sure Scan’s leadership, including President and CEO James J. McNamara and LeeAnn Levesque General Manager of SureScan Corporation who urged Schumer to secure this measure. Schumer has been active in Sure Scan’s certification process, which involves sending the unit down to the Atlantic City TSA testing facility for rigorous tests to insure that the device performs at the levels specified by the company. In summer of 2003, Schumer persuaded the federal Transportation Security Administration that the device Sure Scan is planning to build would be ideal for airports and government agencies to use.
In this year’s budget, Schumer secured a measure that allocated $45 million for the next generation of homeland screening technology, a move that means SureScan will be one of a few companies able to compete for this money once they are certified by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Schumer, who first brought the TSA to meet with SureScan in 2003, lobbied aggressively for inclusion of the language in the Homeland Security Appropriations Conference Report.