Congressman Rohrabacher Previews New Radiation Detection Devices at LA/Long Beach Ports

Nov 1, 2006
Press Release

Washington, Nov 1, 2006 -

The nation’s busiest seaport today was given a preview of how the SAFE Port legislation recently signed into law by President Bush would improve security, spotlighting new, highly sophisticated mobile radiation portal monitors, an integral component in U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s layered defense against radiological weapons.

“Customs and Border Protection has worked hand-in-hand with state and local government to ensure that the nation’s busiest seaport is also the safest,” said CBP Commissioner W. Ralph Basham. “Nearly all containers currently exiting this port via truck and rail are screened for nuclear and radiological materials, and by January we will be at 100 percent. The mobile radiation portal monitors provide CBP with a tactical edge to conduct screening operations, as they can easily be deployed anywhere, including supporting state and locals to secure a major event.”

Commissioner Basham was joined for a tour of American President Lines operations by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), CBP Los Angeles Field Director Kevin W. Weeks and CBP Los Angeles/Long Beach Port Director Todd A. Hoffman.

The Security and Accountability for Every Port Act, signed Oct. 13 by the President, calls for modernized inspection technologies, codifies two CBP global port security programs and instructs the Department of Homeland Security to make plans for expedited resumption of trade should an attack impact a port.

In addition to the radiation portals, other sophisticated equipment used at LA/Long Beach by CBP in its layered enforcement strategy includes large-scale, non-intrusive X-ray technology that can scan an entire sea container within two to three minutes, and personal radiation detection devices that are assigned to all front-line officers.

CBP officers also use the Radiation Isotope Identifier, or RIID, a hand-held instrument capable of detecting and identifying various types of radiation emanating from radioactive materials, including materials used in a nuclear or radiation-dispersal weapons. It also is capable of identifying specialized nuclear materials from natural sources and isotopes commonly used in medicine and industry.

“The technology we have deployed enhances our critical mission of preventing terrorists or others from attempting to smuggle weapons of mass destruction through U.S. borders,” Basham said.

Since June 2005, CBP has installed 85 radiation portal monitors at 14 shipping terminals within Los Angeles/Long Beach harbor. Eighteen mobile portal monitors have been delivered and six more are expected by the end of this year.

Los Angeles/Long Beach harbor, covering 15,000 acres, is the nation’s biggest and busiest seaport complex. About 45 percent of all sea containers arriving in the U.S. come through LA/Long Beach.

Over 5,550 vessels arrived last fiscal year at LA/Long Beach, about 15 per day. CBP processed over 5 million containers and cleared over 1 million cruise-line passengers and crew. LA/LB CBP collected over $6.3 billion in duties, fees and taxes for the United States last year, more than one-fifth of the total duties, fees and taxes collected at ports nationwide.

Mr. Rohrabacher speaks to Homeland Security professionals