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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 1, 2007

Schumer, Menendez Offer Amendment to Bolster 9/11 Recommendations Bill That Would Set Deadline For 100% Cargo Scanning

Five Years After 9/11, Millions of Containers Enter the U.S. Unscanned - Amendment Would Scan EVERY CONTAINER for Nuclear Weapons Before Arrival in the US Within Five Years Without Slowing Commerce

Today, U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Robert Menendez will offer a major amendment to the Improving America's Security Act (S. 4) currently being considered by the Senate. The Schumer-Menendez amendment would require 100 percent of containers from large ports to be scanned before arriving to the United States within three years.

"One of the greatest risks facing our security is that a terrorist could easily smuggle a nuclear weapon from a foreign country and into our ports. A nuclear weapon detonated in a port would be a terrorist's dream. It would inflict countless deaths, tremendous destruction of our infrastructure, and bring trade to a standstill. The bottom line is, programs to screen for nuclear materials are delayed, funding for research and development squandered, and international security mismanaged. If this Administration isn't going to put some muscle behind security under the current laws, then Congress will."

"Each and every day, Secret Service officers scan one hundred percent of White House visitors and Capitol Police officers scan one hundred percent of visitors to the Capitol complex - including staff," Menendez said. "We must demand the same standard for security at our ports - we must demand that every cargo container is scanned for threats that would have disastrous implications on our nation's security, infrastructure and economy."

The Amendment, identical to Title V of H.R. 1 which passed the House in January, would require 100 percent of containers from the largest foreign ports to be scanned and sealed before arriving in the United States within three years. Within five years, 100 percent of containers from all ports worldwide must be scanned and sealed before arriving in the United States. The Secretary of Homeland Security may grant a single 1-year extension of the deadline if equipment is not available for purchase and installation. The Secretary is required to develop standards for technology to scan containers for nuclear and radiological weapons and for tamper-proof container seals, and to update these standards regularly. If passed, the Schumer amendment would require the Secretary to issue a final rule implementing this law within one year of completing the pilot scanning program that was created in Section 231 of the SAFE Ports Act and is now being implemented by DHS. The Senate bill to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission (S. 4) currently does not address the need to improve maritime cargo container security.

Schumer and Menendez are two of the Senate leaders on port security and members of the Senate's port security caucus. Last year, the full Senate passed Schumer's amendment that created an "Apollo Project" for port security to fund a bold research and development program into new nuclear screening technology.

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