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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 12, 2006

As Senate Considers Port Security Legislation, Schumer Offers Amendments To Bolster Bill – Would Deploy New Innovative Screening System And Create “Apollo Project” For Port Security

Five Years After 9/11, DHS Not Doing Nearly Enough to Beef Up Port Security in the United States and Around the World; Millions of Containers Enter the United States Uninspected

Schumer Amendment Would Institute Screening For EVERY CONTAINER at Major Ports Around The World Within Four Years Without Slowing Commerce

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer offered two major amendments to the Port Security Improvement Act currently being considered by the Senate. Schumer’s amendments would require DHS to implement a new three-layered screening system for all containers entering the United States and create an “Apollo Project” for port security that would devote $500 million for a bold research and development program in to new nuclear screening technology.

“Port security has been the neglected step-child of homeland security for far too long," Schumer said. “Screening only 5 percent of roughly 11 million containers that come in to the United States is not only an outrage, its dangerous. This past week everyone has been asking, are we safe? Well, if you look at the area of port security, the answer is a resounding no. Our greatest risk is that a terrorist could easily smuggle a nuclear weapon through our ports and in to the United States. And once it gets out of the ports, it’s gone and we probably wouldn’t know about it until it was too late. The bottom line is this Administration had its chance. Programs to screen for nuclear materials are years delayed, funding for research and development has been squandered, and international security programs have been grossly mismanaged and underfunded.”

Below are summaries of Schumer’s two amendments:

Screening all Cargo that Enters the US: Schumer’ amendment would require that within 4 years, every single container entering the United States passes through a new, three-layered scanning system, similar to the system currently deployed by Hutchison Wampoa at the Port of Hong Kong. Foreign ports that participate in the Container Security Initiative will be required to adopt the advanced system within 2 years. The system scans every container for nuclear materials, then takes an internal image of the container’s contents, and then tags it with a bar code or Radio Frequency Identification tag so security personnel can track the box at any point during shipping.

An “Apollo Project” to Improve Nuclear Detection: The United States needs to make a real commitment to developing cutting-edge technology to detect and prevent nuclear threats to seaports. Schumer’s amendment will direct DHS to distribute $500 million in competitive grants over two years for research and development of new technology, funded by a seaport user fee.

Schumer is one of the Senate leaders on port security and is member of the Senate’s port security caucus. He is an original co-sponsor of S.1052, the Transportation Security Improvement Act, which is comprehensive transportation security legislation. Schumer also led the fight to block Dubai Ports World, a company owned by the Government of Dubai, from taking over major ports across the United States.

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