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Marine Log

January 8, 2007

Bill seeks scanning and sealing of all containers

Containers bound for the U.S. from foreign ports would have to be scanned and be fitted with intrusion-detecting seals under sweeping new legislation introduced on Friday by new Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss).

Thompson says that H.R. 1, the "9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007," will make the U.S. more secure by "closing many of the critical security gaps that continue to leave this nation exposed to the risk of a terrorist attack."

Title V of the bill deals with "Strengthening the Security of Cargo Containers." It provides that a container may enter the United States, either directly or via a foreign port, only if:

(A) the container is scanned with equipment that meets the standards established pursuant to paragraph (2)(A) and a copy of the scan is provided to the Secretary; and

(B) the container is secured with a seal that meets the standards established pursuant to paragraph (2)(B), before the container is loaded on the vessel for shipment to the United States.

(2) STANDARDS FOR SCANNING EQUIPMENT AND SEALS-

(A) SCANNING EQUIPMENT- The Secretary shall establish standards for scanning equipment required to be used under paragraph (1)(A) to ensure that such equipment uses the best-available technology, including technology to scan a container for radiation and density and, if appropriate, for atomic elements.

(B) SEALS- The Secretary shall establish standards for seals required to be used under paragraph (1)(B) to ensure that such seals use the best-available technology, including technology to detect any breach into a container and identify the time of such breach.

(C) REVIEW AND REVISION- The Secretary shall--

(i) review and, if necessary, revise the standards established pursuant to subparagraphs (A) and (B) not less than once every two years; and

(ii) ensure that any such revised standards require the use of technology, as soon as such technology becomes available, to--

(I) identify the place of a breach into a container;

(II) notify the Secretary of such breach before the container enters the Exclusive Economic Zone of the United States; and

(III) track the time and location of the container during transit to the United States, including by truck, rail, or vessel.

(D) DEFINITION- In subparagraph (C), the term `Exclusive Economic Zone of the United States' has the meaning given the term `Exclusive Economic Zone' in section 2101(10a) of this title.'.

(b) Authorization of Appropriations- There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out section 70116(c) of title 46, United States Code, as added by subsection (a) of this section, such sums as may be necessary for each of the fiscal years 2008 through 2013.

(c) Regulations; Application-

(1) REGULATIONS-

(A) INTERIM FINAL RULE- Consistent with the results of and lessons derived from the pilot system implemented under section 231 of the SAFE Port Act (Public Law 109-347), the Secretary of Homeland Security shall issue an interim final rule as a temporary regulation to implement section 70116(c) of title 46, United States Code, as added by subsection (a) of this section, not later than 180 days after the date of the submission of the report under section 231 of the SAFE Port Act, without regard to the provisions of chapter 5 of title 5, United States Code.

(B) FINAL RULE- The Secretary shall issue a final rule as a permanent regulation to implement section 70116(c) of title 46, United States Code, as added by subsection (a) of this section, not later than one year after the date of the submission of the report under section 231 of the SAFE Port Act, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 5 of title 5, United States Code. The final rule issued pursuant to that rulemaking may supersede the interim final rule issued pursuant to subparagraph (A).

(2) PHASED-IN APPLICATION-

(A) IN GENERAL- The requirements of section 70116(c) of title 46, United States Code, as added by subsection (a) of this section, apply with respect to any container entering the United States, either directly or via a foreign port, beginning on--

(i) the end of the 3-year period beginning on the date of the enactment of this Act, in the case of a container loaded on a vessel destined for the United States in a country in which more than 75,000 twenty-foot equivalent units of containers were loaded on vessels for shipping to the United States in 2005; and

(ii) the end of the 5-year period beginning on the date of the enactment of this Act, in the case of a container loaded on a vessel destined for the United States in any other country.

(B) EXTENSION- The Secretary may extend by up to one year the period under clause (i) or (ii) of subparagraph (A) for containers loaded in a port, if the Secretary--

(i) finds that the scanning equipment required under section 70116(c) of title 46, United States Code, as added by subsection (a) of this section, is not available for purchase and installation in the port; and

(ii) at least 60 days prior to issuing such extension, transmits such finding to the appropriate congressional committees.

(d) International Cargo Security Standards- The Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is encouraged to promote and establish international standards for the security of containers moving through the international supply chain with foreign governments and international organizations, including the International Maritime Organization and the World Customs Organization.

(e) International Trade and Other Obligations- In carrying out section 70116(c) of title 46, United States Code, as added by subsection (a) of this section, the Secretary shall consult with appropriate Federal departments and agencies and private sector stakeholders to ensure that actions under such section do not violate international trade obligations or other international obligations of the United State

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