Monday, February 27, 2006

Who's gonna run the ports?

There's been a lot of gum-beating and jaw-flapping going on about the possibility of the running of some US ports being done by a company owned by a parent corporation located in the United Arab Emirates. This might be a good time to bring in a little perspective to the issue.

The biggest and worst case terrorist threat we face is for a nuke to come into the US through one of our ports in a container. Our borders are so leaky right now that getting smaller stuff smuggled into the US isn't too hard anyway, so smaller scale smuggling doesn't really need a container. A good sized nuke, however, could travel nicely in a container, so I'm told.

Depending on whose numbers you use, only roughly one container out of one hundred gets inspected right now. In other words, with our ports under current security and NOT being run by an Arab company, the odds are "99 to 1" against a nuke being found in a container anyway. That's not very good odds! The absolute worst it could get would be 100 out of 100 getting through, rather than the current 99 out of 100 getting through.

Even if we had 100 percent inspection of every single container to land on our docks, our security is still worthless against a nuke, as it could be detonated on the ship, or as it's container is being lifted from the ship, well before any inspection could occur.

The point I'm trying to make is that once a nuke in a container enters one of our harbors, the game is already over. It can be detonated before any action can be taken to disable it.

For our ports to be secure against nuclear attack by ship, the security has to start when the ship is loaded in the foreign port, not once it has arrived in the United States.

The containers need to be inspected and put under seal before being loaded onto the ship, and they must be inspected for untampered seals offshore before entering our ports.

Perhaps that means a US security guard team needs to ride with every container ship bound for a US port. If that what it takes, then that's what it takes.

It may cost a bit more, and it may raise the price a bit for foreign made products. That's a small price to pay for the security it could provide our seaports.

Unfortunately, it probably won't happen until there's an "incident". Possibly an incident that makes 9/11 look like child's play. An "incident" worse than your worst nightmare.

I sure hope someone in a position to make a difference figures this out, and takes some action, before it's too late.........


At Monday, February 27, 2006 11:05:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saw a lengthy interview with security at Newark (?) Port late last week. (Sorry, no link or source.) The 1% (or 5%, as sometimes reported) appears to be those containers that are opened and everything pulled out and inspected. About 98% (no clarification about other 2%) are run through units that detect radioactivity, and units that "screen", much like the baggage screening at airports. Also mentioned that there is screening at many ports before containers are sent here. Side note: see where Saudi and Chinese-based companies already manage 9 or more of our ports. Would like to have comments from some who work security at ports, please!!!

At Tuesday, February 28, 2006 10:48:00 AM, Blogger Mr. Completely said...

Sounds like a lot depends on if you can make a nuke that is shielded enough that the radiation detector can't find it through the walls of a container.

.....Mr. C.


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