Grants awarded for port security

Transportation Department Secretary Norman Mineta announced June 17 the award of $92.3 million in grants to 51 ports nationwide to enhance security through initiatives that could include electronic seals.

"Protecting seaports and facilities against the threat of terrorism is imperative," Mineta said at a news conference in New York City. The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks "have resulted in a renewed focus on the security of our transportation systems, and we at DOT are aggressively meeting these challenges on several fronts."

Of the grants, $78 million will pay for enhanced facility and operational security; $5 million will go toward security assessments to enable ports and terminals to evaluate vulnerabilities and identify mitigation strategies; and $9.3 million will pay for "proof of concept projects" to explore the use of new technologies, including vessel tracking and electronic notification of arrivals.

The department recently completed a test of e-seals — radio frequency devices that enable agencies to determine if a container has been tampered with — and has begun work on a transportation worker identification system including smart cards.

Congress provided funding for the grants to the Transportation Security Administration, which is administering the program along with the Coast Guard and the Maritime Administration.

President Bush established TSA in November when he signed the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, which mandated improvements in securing the nation's transportation systems.

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