July 27, 2004

U.S. loans container X-ray machines to Piraeus

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is playing a part in safeguarding the Olympics. CBP Commissioner Robert C. Bonner and Vassilios Manolopoulos, Director General, of the Greek Directorate General of Customs and Excise announced today that CBP officers have been deployed to the port of Piraeus as part of the Container Security Initiative (CSI) and that CSI has become operational there.

In order to jump start CSI in Greece, CBP is loaning Greece two large-scale, whole container x-ray machines, so that the security protection of CSI can be in place before the Olympics this summer and are there in time to contribute to the security of the Olympics.

This equipment is an essential part of CSI, because it allows the screening of targeted containers rapidly without slowing down the flow of movement of legitimate trade. Customs officers use these large-scale x-ray imaging systems to safely and efficiently screen conveyances for potential terrorist weapons, including weapons of mass destruction.

The equipment produces an x-ray type image of the interior of a full-size 40-foot container in under a minute. As part of CSI, Customs officers also use radiation detection devices to scan for signs of radioactive materials. If necessary, containers are opened and unloaded by the host government Customs service for a more intensive manual inspection.

As part of the CSI program, CBP officers are working with host government personnel as part of CSI, to target cargo containers that pose a potential risk for terrorism destined for the United States. Greek Customs officials will inspect containers identified as a potential terrorist risk.

Deputy Secretary James Loy of the Department of Homeland Security and Director General Manolopoulos, of Customs and Excise, signed a CSI agreement on June 25, 2004, during the World Customs Organization (WCO) council session in Brussels, Belgium.

Commissioner Bonner said, "When the Container Security Initiative was proposed in early 2002, the goal was to establish CSI in 20 of the largest or 'Mega/ container seaports of the world. Today, with the implementation of CSI at the port of Piraeus, Greece, we have achieved that goal, and we have done it in record time.

"But we are not stopping there. We plan to expand the CSI network even farther," Commissioner Bonner added.

Greece is the 18th country to enter into a CSI agreement with the United States. CSI, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection initiative launched in January 2002, is operational at 20 of the world's major seaports in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America.

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