WASHINGTON - The Transportation Safety Administration is soliciting comments on Operation Safe Commerce (OSC), the first step in a long-awaited cargo-security demonstration project that will involve public agencies and private businesses in the three largest container ports in the United States.
Participants in Los Angeles-Long Beach, Seattle-Tacoma and New York-New Jersey may propose projects that demonstrate the ability to keep pace with expanding trade, while making supply chains more secure from terrorist attack, TSA said today.
OSC participants will share some $27.9 million in grants from the federal 2002 supplemental anti-terrorism budget. Among the projects may be ones that:
-- Help develop standards for packing and loading containers
-- Establish security in loading areas
-- Equip containers with technology to securely seal and track them
-- Demonstrate "secure trading lanes" for point-to-point maritime and intermodal security
-- Provide federal officials with information on lading and routing of containers to help in their targeting and inspection
The idea for OSC began in late 2001 as the Northern New England Border Security Program. Local businesses banded with regional Coast Guard, customs and law enforcement officials to figure out solutions to container security. They adopted the ideas espoused by Stephen E. Flynn, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, that border security begins beyond the border, and supply-chain security is a partnership of government and business.
Last June the group, with the help of the Department of Transportation, fitted a container with tracking devices and followed a shipment of light bulbs from a factory in Slovakia to a distribution center in New Hampshire.
Officials said the demonstration project in the three major port areas will be the second phase of information-gathering that will help TSA establish standards for cargo security.
Comments are due to TSA by Dec. 5.