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US ports urgently need overdue money for security. Why aren’t they getting it?

PortandTerminal.com, February 19, 2019

A lot has changed at America’s ports since the horror of 9/11. For one, the amount of cargo and passengers handled by American ports has increased dramatically. In the 17 years since 9/11 container volumes are up 71%, foreign trade is up by 37% and cruise passengers through US ports have almost doubled.

Increased trade and passengers at American ports since 9/11 is the goods news. The bad news is that American government funding for port security has been flat for the past 5 years, stuck at $100 million per year.

That’s a serious problem. Every additional container moved, every ton of cargo loaded and every passenger boarded helps America’s bottom line but also creates more security risks. Which container that wasn’t checked may contain a dirty bomb? Which cruise passenger who wasn’t screened thoroughly enough may be a terrorist?

At present, Customs & Border Patrol scan only 3.7% of the containers coming into the USA

In December 2018, the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) published their annual Port Security Grant Program Report “State of Freight”. In their report the AAPA’s members, who represent 79 of America’s largest ports, predicted that $4 billion in port security funding could be required over the next 10 years.

What is needed now

The AAPA reported that survey participants said $2.6 billion would be needed for maintenance and upgrades to current port security equipment and systems and another $1.3 billion should be invested in issues that address cybersecurity, active shooter incidents, drone mitigation, resiliency and other security threats. Ports’ needs are currently about four times greater than what is allocated annually by the PSGP program.

As things stand now, the federal government still invests just $100 million annually in the PSGP to protect one-quarter of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product that moves through America’s ports.

Learn more

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