BIFA calls on US to think again on cargo screening

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The British International Freight Association has called in the US government to review its initiative to screen cargo for weapons of mass destruction and come up with a revised programme.

The move comes in response to the admission by the US Department for Homeland Security (DHS)  that it will not be able to meet its 2012 deadline to implement its goal of 100 per cent inbound container scanning.

John O’Connell, BIFA’s director of trade services, said: “Rather than pushing back the deadline for 100 per cent screening, as requested by DHS, the US government ought to undertake a pragmatic review of the whole initiative and create a revised programme on a risk assessed, commercially practical and technologically feasible basis.”

BIFA has been arguing that the DHS has consistently underestimated the scale of the task in hand relative to the costs both to the US Government and those of foreign governments, as well as, importantly, the limited ability of contemporary screening technology to penetrate dense cargo, or large quantities of cargo in shipping containers.

It points out that some 86 per cent of cargo shipped to the USA originates from only 58 of more than 700 global ports.

“We have always said that expanding screening with available technology would slow the flow of commerce and drive up costs to consumers without bringing significant security benefits. These thoughts were echoed in the testimony made by Janet Napolitano to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transport Committee,” said O’Connell

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