Funds for states, ports announced

Department of Homeland Security

The Homeland Security Department this week awarded millions of dollars to assist first responders and improve port security.

DHS announced today that 10 states have been given nearly $400 million for first responder preparedness and response capabilities:

* Texas — $78,238,000.

* Florida — $62,655,000.

* Illinois — $50,005,000.

* Washington — $29,971,000.

* Wisconsin — $27,985,000.

* Minnesota — $26,690,000.

* Louisiana — $25,037,000.

* Arkansas — $19,585,000.

* New Mexico — $16,956,000.

* Maine — $15,232,000.

Since March 1, DHS has released more than $4.4 billion in grants from the federal fiscal 2003 budget, according to the department. The funds have been distributed to cities and states to pay for planning, equipment, training and exercises.

On June 12, DHS Secretary Tom Ridge announced $170 million in port security grants for the second phase of the Container Security Initiative and $58 million in funding for Operation Safe Commerce.

The latter pilot program, in partnership with the Transportation Department, protects cargo from packaging through delivery by fostering research and development of emerging technologies that monitor movement along the supply chain and ensure container integrity. The ports of Seattle; Tacoma, Wash.; Los Angeles; Long Beach, Calif.; and the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey are pilot participants.

Container Security Initiative grants are supposed to improve dockside and perimeter security. The Transportation Security Administration has distributed grants to 199 state and local governments and private companies, which will be used for new harbor patrol boats, surveillance equipment, and construction of new command and control facilities.

DHS is providing an additional $75 million through the Office of Domestic Preparedness for infrastructure security protective measures, security enhancements, training, exercises, equipment, planning and information sharing.

Ridge said in a statement that the four elements of the Container Security Initiative program are:

* Identifying high-risk containers through advance information, even before they're loaded onto ships bound for the United States.

* Pre-screening such containers at their international ports of origin.

* Using detection technology such as radiation detectors and X-ray imaging equipment.

* Using "smarter, tamper-evident" containers to better detect any breach at a U.S. port.

"Currently, about 90 percent of all world cargo moves by container. In the United States alone, almost half of incoming trade (by value) arrives by containers aboard container ships. That means that almost 7 million cargo containers arrive and are offloaded at U.S. seaports each year," Ridge said. "Let me be clear: This is not just a response to terrorism. We believe it's a deterrent."

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