Marine Log

March 10, 2006

Nadler, Oberstar introduce scan-every-box act

Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Congressman James Oberstar (D-MN), ranking Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, have introduced the Sail Only if Scanned (S.O.S.) Act, H.R. 4899,

It would mandate that every container bound for the United States be scanned for nuclear weapons and bomb-making materials.

"No container should be placed on a ship bound for the United States unless it has been screened for nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and their components," Congressman Nadler said. "The Bush Administration has refused to act on this front, and appears content to screen less than 5 percent of the 11 million shipping containers that enter this country every year. That's appalling."

"Since 9/11, the Administration has implemented port security measures to make us feel good, without really providing security," Congressman Oberstar said. "Feeling good is not good enough. It is time for Congress to act. We must have effective port security standards and procedures in place before a terrorist uses the marine transportation system as a stealth missile."

In order to ensure that every container is checked for radiological or other hazardous substances, H.R. 4899 would mandate:

That all containers be scanned using the best-available technology, including scanning for radiation and density, before they are loaded onto a ship destined for the United States;

That the scans be reviewed by American security personnel before the container is loaded; and

That the containers be sealed with a device that indicates if the container has been tampered with in transit, and that would notify U.S. officials of a breach before the container enters the Exclusive Economic Zone of the United States.

According to a statement issued by Rep. Nadler, "the cost of implementing this security system is minimal. In fact, the estimated cost to scan a container is only $6.50-- a drop in the bucket, given that it costs about $4,000 to ship a container from Asia to the United States.

Eleven other members of Congress have joined Nadler and Oberstar as original cosponsors of the S.O.S. Act: Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Congressman Robert Brady (D-PA), Congressman Donald Payne (D-NJ), Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY), Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Congressman Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Congressman Timothy Bishop (D-NY), Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), and Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA)