Congress Passes Conference Version of Cargo Security Measure
July 30, 2007
The House of Representatives and Senate have passed the conference version of H.R. 1, to provide for the implementation of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission which includes provisions for 100% radiation screening of all maritime cargo. The House passed the conference version of H.R. 1 on July 27, 2007, by a vote of 371-40, while the Senate passed it on July 26, 2007, by a vote of 85-8.
The legislation, if signed by the President, will require 100% radiation screening within five years of all US-bound maritime cargo before loading at foreign ports and gives the Secretary of Homeland Security authority to extend the deadline by two years at a time extensions to foreign ports unable to meet the standards. Similarly, H.R 1 requires screening of all cargo carried on passenger aircraft within three years. Unlike initially proposed, this does not include physical inspection requirements and therefore will limit the impact on air carriers.
Last week, a congressional conference committee met to attempt to merge the House and Senate bills to implement unfinished business of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. The committee determined that it was necessary to impose a 100 percent container scanning requirement, and that the requirement must be met in five years, by
Section 1701 of the Implementing of the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007 states that extensions may be issued by the Department of Homeland Security under the following circumstances:
Scanning systems are not available for purchase and installation
- Systems have unacceptably high rates of false alarms
- Ports do not have the physical characteristics to install systems
- Container scanning systems cannot be integrated with existing systems
- Use of systems will “significantly impact trade capacity and the flow of cargo.”
- Systems do not adequately provide automated notification of high-risk cargo as an alarm for human inspection.
In all other cases, “A container that was loaded on a vessel in a foreign port shall not enter the
It is expected that the bill will ultimately be signed into law.