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April 26, 2002

Breaux introduces port security legislation
Ongoing port security concerns expressed by experts nationwide are now being addressed in legislation introduced yesterday by Senator John Breaux (D-La.).

"Port security is one of the most important concerns facing the transportation industry, and one of the most difficult and least understood vulnerabilities to the American economy," Sen. Breaux said. "Since September 11, I have toured ports and held field hearings, and I've learned we have a lot of work to do to make our ports safer. This Congress must pass a united, comprehensive federal plan to improve security at our seaports where passenger and freight transportation security remain serious issues."

Senator Breaux and Senator Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), the bipartisan leaders of the Senate Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine have formally introduced the "Ship, Seafarer and Container Security Act."

The act is designed to provide better information about shipping and shipping threats, and to allow better tracking of vessels and the security of the nation's marine environment.

Sen. Breaux intends to have these provisions incorporated in any House-Senate conference report on seaport security.

Sen. Breaux was a cosponsor of the "Port and Maritime Security Act of 2001," which passed the Senate unanimously last December. That bill (S. 1214) provides funds for more security officers and screening equipment, and to build port security infrastructures. The House of Representatives has not yet passed similar port security legislation.

Key provisions of the Ship, Seafarer and Container Security Act will:

* Require certain vessels to carry transponders to transmit and track their positions so the Coast Guard can track U.S. and foreign vessels;

* Require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to negotiate an international agreement in two years or submit legislation to Congress to: identify seafarers with a uniform identification system, provide greater transparency of the ownership of ship registration to track vessel ownership, and mandate stronger standards for marine containers, and for anti-tampering and locking systems for marine containers;

* Require DOT to better assess the risks posed by certain vessels and ensure enforcement of security zones.

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