Port security report focuses on ecnomic recovery
| 06.29.2006 | 06:37:02 | Views: 2808 | ID:
June 29 '06: A new report released by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California found the economic impact of a terrorist attack potentially the most damaging to the nation because of a lack of coordination, response and failing security measures Knight Ridder News Wire reported Tuesday. "Inadequate federal funding and staffing has lowered or stalled a raft of security initiatives that lawmakers scurried to create after the threat of the nation's 361 ports came into focus," following the attacks on September 11, 2001 KRT Wire continued. A greater focus should be placed on the economic recovery following a terrorist attack, the report concluded.
The report has spurred lawmakers in California to call on the Port of Los Angeles "to deliver a report on how it would recover from a terrorist attack," the Los Angeles Times wrote.According to the PPIC, "Ports are a significant potential choke point for an enormous amount of economic activity. ... They move about 80 percent of all US international trade by weight, and about 95 percent of all US overseas trade ... By value, $807 billion worth of goods flowed through the seaports in 2003, about 41 percent of all US international goods trade." Jon Haveman, co-editor of the report told KRT Wire because of the number and economic importance of the nation's ports, "The only reason terrorists would attack a port is the impact on the economy. ... But if you can reduce the economic damage, the less likely they are to attack." And last year, a review of ports around the US by the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security "found that almost 80 percent of the grant money wasn't being spent. Some projects that received funding appeared to have little security benefit," KRT Wire continued. Though a terrorist attack has not occurred, several examples of the economic impact caused by a port shutting down include a union dispute in 2002 on the West Coast, and the 2005 hurricane season when Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma caused massive damage to the Gulf Coast ports and stalled shipping lanes. "That a natural disaster can produce such a result implies that an attack on oil terminals at US ports could be both desirable and effective for terrorists." Other concerns raised in the report are the possibility of a terrorist smuggling in a weapon of mass destruction such as a chemical biological or nuclear weapon. Currently, only about 5 percent of all containers entering the US are inspected though port security officials have said the job of inspecting all containers is nearly impossible. "The Bush administration has placed more than 1,200 radiation detectors in the nation's ports, and ports have used federal grant money to physically secure their entries. Customs officials inspect and board ships at dozens of foreign ports, and the government has a 'trusted shipper' program that allows it to focus on high-risk ships," KRT Wire reported.
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